Ashley D. DePriest, MS, RDN, LD, CNSC, is a clinical dietitian at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia, USA. She joined the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) in 2015 and is currently a social media ambassador and a member of SCCM's Future of Critical Care Taskforce. During her free time, you can find her gardening or traveling. Her clinical interests include gastrointestinal nutrition, professional development, and quality and patient safety. Mrs. DePriest shares her love for critical care, offers advice for those starting their critical care careers, and reflects on the industry's challenges.
Why do you love being in critical care?
Critical care nutrition is an exciting space to be working in right now. Knowledge and understanding of nutrition's impact on patients, particularly long-term outcomes, is growing, and dietitians have a unique skill set to apply that knowledge at the bedside. Dietitians are integrating more and more into multiprofessional teams, and it's great to be part of the conversation on how to do just that.
How did you get into critical care?
I started in a trauma ICU very early in my career. I quickly realized how much more I had to learn about critical care nutrition and immediately sought every chance I could get to listen in on rounds, attend resident presentations, and read emerging research. Being at a teaching hospital allowed me many opportunities to build on the base knowledge of clinical nutrition I had developed during my internship.
What is your biggest professional achievement?
My biggest professional achievement was the honor of being recognized with the Dr. Joseph and Rae Brown Award at the 2020 Critical Care Congress.
What advice do you have for those starting their critical care careers?
My advice to new critical care practitioners is to rid yourself of the chip on your shoulder and approach every situation with patience, kindness, and the intention to learn something (even if it’s the one-millionth time you've had to explain why we no longer recommend routine checking of gastric residual volumes).
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care?
ICUs have a lot of opportunities to fully incorporate all professions and to support those professions practicing at their highest scope of practice with hospital policies supporting practices. Examples include dietitians placing nasogastric feeding tubes or speech therapists being more involved in tracheostomy management.
What industry trends have you excited about the future?
I am excited about the development of nutrition measuring and monitoring devices, specifically as it relates to energy and protein needs. The current approach is almost always a shot in the dark. Having more data with precise measurements will help provide individualized prescribing to maximize lean body mass maintenance as much as possible throughout a critical care stay. Ultimately I hope this will improve long-term outcomes for critical care survivors.
What do you love about SCCM membership?
My SCCM membership has connected me with top critical care practitioners from many places, which has allowed me to expand my knowledge and understanding of how critical care nutrition is applied across the globe.
Connect with @Ashley DePriest on SCCM Connect or on Twitter at @LifeWithoutDiet