June 25, 2019
When students graduate from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst they often do so with dreams of working at top medical centers and research facilities around the globe. For Nutrition alumna Ashley Kratovil ‘17, that dream came true when she accepted her new job as an inpatient dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s top research institutions and medical centers.
The Mayo Clinic is the nation’s leading nonprofit academic medical center. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, its mission is to “contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.” This mission and the clinic’s accompanying values were just a few of the reasons why, when the job offer came Kratovil’s way, she was eager to accept.
“Mayo Clinic’s [ability to] provide the best patient care through collaboration and teamwork is something that is so important to me,” says Kratovil, “as we all have different sets of skills that can be used to benefit each unique situation.”
As an inpatient dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, Kratovil works with the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and Hematology/Oncology units. Her days consist of interdisciplinary team rounding, conducting nutrition assessments and completing follow-ups with patients. “I am an important member of the care team as many of my patients are going through chemotherapy treatments, which results in numerous nutritional complications,” says Kratovil. “I help to identify patients who are at risk for malnutrition or who have significant weight loss and work daily with them to keep their nutrition adequate through treatment.”
She adds, “I love being able to work so closely with my patients as many of them stay in the hospital for the course of their treatment, giving me the opportunity to follow their progress and help them nutritionally along the way.”
Kratovil says UMass Amherst is where she discovered her passion for helping people through nutrition. “I knew from my freshman year of college that I wanted to study nutrition and ultimately become a registered dietitian,” she says. After graduating in the spring of 2017, she secured a spot in the UMass Dietetic Internship Program. She credits that experience as one that shaped her career trajectory.
“UMass gave me the background in clinical nutrition as well as confidence in my work and the ability to work with a team. It was where I realized that I wanted to go into clinical nutrition and begin my career as an inpatient dietitian. I loved every moment of my clinical rotation at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and couldn’t see myself starting my career anywhere other than in a hospital setting.”
Landing her position at the Mayo Clinic did not come easy. Kratovil says that without the support of her mentors she likely would not be there today. “My dietetic internship director, Judy Dowd, was a tremendous resource when it came to finding the right job and volunteer experiences that would give me the skills to succeed. She was always rooting for me to pursue my career goals and be adventurous in where I wanted to go following the internship.”
With the help of her mentors and through her academic and professional experiences, Kratovil has come to understand what nutrition truly means to her. “Food is an important part of life; it is a source of enjoyment both socially and individually,” Kratovil says. “To me, nutrition is about properly fueling your body with foods that make you feel great, give you more energy and improve your health. Nutrition also means balance and moderation in everything that we eat.”