Part III: Amber Kelly, RD
September is Women in Medicine Month—a time to honor and highlight the work and accomplishments of women within the healthcare industry.
To celebrate, we’re recognizing a few of the amazing women Carium has the pleasure of working with and telling their stories.
In part three of this series, we're highlighting Amber Kelly, RD from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.
Amber Kelly, RD
Amber Kelly is a registered dietitian with 16 years of experience.
For the first decade of her life, she witnessed loved ones close to her avoid activities they once enjoyed. They would say “no” to family vacations at the beach and decline her insistent requests to play outside. She assumed this was normal for families as people aged, but by the 6th grade, it was clear that this was not the case.
Her family members could not oblige her requests to “just have a little fun” due to their complex medical conditions such as diabetes, COPD, and cancer. These chronic disease states were brought on by years of inactivity, poor eating habits, and unmanaged stress, amongst other things. At the time, she was unsure how to process this information or what she might be able to do to help bring about change.
Years later, as she was searching for an undergraduate major, she joined a fitness center at the request of a friend and his father who had a recent heart attack. This one simple act exposed her to the world of health, nutrition, and wellness that she didn’t know existed, and it inspired her to find a field of work where she could improve a person’s quality of life through disease management.
Her strong desire to help others led her to complete a human nutrition and dietetics degree and become a registered dietitian.
She’s currently responsible for the overall leadership and administrative direction of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Weight Management Center's policies, procedures, and programs for various inpatient and outpatient settings and sites. She collaborates with medical directors on the development and delivery of services to achieve strategic goals and objectives. She also serves as the metabolic and bariatric surgery coordinator for their two surgical accreditations.
Her clinical background and expertise have helped her understand and meet the unique needs of clinicians and patients while also balancing an organization's business needs. The transition from a direct patient care role to a management role solidified her passion for leadership.
Are there any obstacles you had to overcome as a woman in healthcare? In your opinion, what can we do better to support gender equity in healthcare?
In the past, I would shy away from tough conversations because I didn't want to be seen as pushy or aggressive. Women as a whole lean towards taking on more tasks and responsibilities to prove themselves without being compensated for it. Providing women with education, resources, and training on how to negotiate for what they want effectively is critical.
Tell us a secret — what is something you love about working in healthcare that most people don’t know?
Even though I don't provide direct care in my current role, our patients' success stories always bring me joy. I know that I am part of a team that helped that patient achieve their goals and improve their life. That feeling is priceless!
What advice would you give to other women beginning their journey into healthcare?
Ask why. If you are uneasy with a decision or just unclear about the expectation, it is ok to ask why. It doesn't mean you aren't capable of fulfilling your job duties, you just need more information.
What advice did you get when you began your career that you wish you hadn’t ignored?
Seek out and establish mentors early on. We need different types of mentors throughout our careers, and taking the time to identify these individuals and develop relationships is critical for your success.
In your opinion, what could be done better to attract more women into careers within healthcare?
Better (equal) pay, mentorship programs, and flexibility—we all want work-life balance!
What are your go-to resources, books, podcasts, or blogs for career advice?
I listen to WorkLife with Adam Grant and HBR IdeaCast.
How are you using Carium’s platform to innovate within your organization?
The platform allows us to engage the patient throughout their pre-surgical journey to get them to bariatric surgery faster. Maintaining long-term follow-up post-op has always been a struggle in the bariatric surgery space.
With Carium, patients can continue to utilize the platform post-surgery to stay on plan and minimize in-clinic visits. Carium enables us to provide virtual care that is convenient for the patient (and the provider).
Stay tuned for tomorrow's feature of Jennifer T. Shalz, MD of St. Luke's!