This month Anna Maria Bittoni was interviewed by member volunteer Nichole Giller. Anna Maria is the Social Media Coordinator.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Columbus Ohio.
Where do you live and work now?
I live in Columbus Ohio now and work at the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!). I work in the outpatient hematology, BMT, head and neck, and sarcoma clinics.
Where did you receive your nutrition degree?
I received my undergraduate degree in dietetics from the University of Dayton. I completed my dietetic internship at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland Ohio and received my masters in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University.
What was your first job in nutrition?
My first job as a dietitian is my current job! I was so fortunate to get my dream job right at the start of my career. I knew I wanted to work in oncology and it was always my dream to work at Ohio State and the James. I never thought I would start out as an outpatient dietitian, but now I cannot imagine it any other way.
Why did you get into oncology nutrition?
During my summers in college, I would come home to Columbus and got a job working at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center with a research dietitian. Their team consisted of researchers, physicians, and dietitians who performed clinical trials regarding diet and cancer, specifically on soy and tomato products and how they relate to prostate cancer. Working with this team was when I began to truly realize and understand the deep relationship between cancer and nutrition and how much nutrition can impact our cancer risk and disease. The dietitian I worked with was a huge inspiration and role model for me and we are still great friends!
What is your favorite thing about your job/career?
My favorite thing about my job is building relationships with patients and their families and having the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a patient or family member’s face light up when you walk into the room and knowing you have impacted them in a positive way. My patients are my inspiration and teach me so much about hope, perseverance, and love, not only in my job but in life.
What skills do you consider to be essential when working with oncology patients specifically?
Compassion. Working in oncology requires you to relate to others on a personal level and try to understand the path they are currently walking. You also need to have humor and be able to see the light in all situations.
What current topic in oncology nutrition is an interest to you?
I work in BMT, so I am very interested in the role of sarcopenia and how this affects outcomes in BMT patients. I also am interested in the relationship between probiotics, the gut microbiome, and GVHD.
What interested you in joining the DPG leadership team, specifically your current position?
It is actually a funny story. I was at the ON DPG Symposium for the first time 4 years ago. I was walking by a big group of the DPG committee members who asked me to snap a photo for them. I guess I took a good picture, because we then started talking about how they needed a new Social Media Coordinator! I was very excited about joining this group of amazing women who are true leaders and pioneers in the field of oncology nutrition. My current position as Social Media Position specifically interested me because it was an opportunity to help spread the word about current topics and research in oncology nutrition, as well as share the important work the ON DPG is doing!
What is your role in the Social Media Coordinator position?
My role as Social Media Coordinator is to manage the ON DPG social media channels. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I gather and create content to post on each site and determine when the posts should be scheduled. We recently just expanded the social media team to include a new member, Danielle Penick, who has been a wonderful addition to our team!
What advice would you give new dietitians?
Get involved! Your career path is influenced so much by the people you meet and relationships you build. You never know how the next person you encounter will change your life!
What are a few of your hobbies?
I love cycling! I participate in a 100-mile bike ride every summer to raise money for cancer research and spend a lot of time on my bike during the year to train for this. Riding with my cycling family is one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. I also love traveling and spending time with my friends, family, and cat.
What is your favorite food?
Cheese and pasta. Can you tell I am 100% Italian?!
What is your "favorite" nutrition myth?
Anything related to detoxing! “Detox” is probably my least favorite word in the English language.
How do you relax after a day of hard work?
Exercise! I love aerobics, cycling, yoga, barre – anywhere I can decompress and clear my mind for awhile.
Do you have any future/long term career goals?
I truly love my job in the clinical oncology setting. I would love to participate in research that will help inform clinical practice and advance the field of oncology nutrition.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am obsessed with Katy Perry. I dressed up as her for Halloween one year and cried when she performed at the Super Bowl.