Dietitian, Preceptor & Consultant
Andrea Jenkins, Seminole
Nation Tribe of Oklahoma, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian
and certified diabetes educator with the Community Health
Centers (CHC) of Santa Maria, California. (She has two
master’s degrees. One is in nutrition; the other is in
agriculture information science and education.)
Jenkins divides her time between the primary care program and the comprehensive perinatal services program. She conducts nutrition assessments and provides recommendations to physicians for medical nutrition therapy. She uses the Sweet Success Program guidelines for pregnant women with diabetes, and she provides nutrition education both in the clinics and the community.
Jenkins helped make it possible for the California Polytechnic State University’s (CPSU) dietetic internship program to use the Santa Maria CHC as a training site. Jenkins, who received her bachelor's of science in nutrition from CPSU, serves as a preceptor, supervising and educating the interns.
The people that Jenkins currently serves at the CHC identify themselves as Latino, Latino-American, Hispanic and Oaxacan. She says that 90% of her time is spent working with these people on the issues of obesity and diabetes. These health issues also took the majority of her time when she was a registered dietitian and then a nutrition program manager with the Indian Health Council in Pauma Valley, California. There, she cared for a largely reservation-based American Indian population. As a consequence of these experiences, Jenkins says, “I recommend that students who are thinking about becoming an RD and working with American Indians or Latino, Hispanic or Oaxacan population, work towards their CDE (certified diabetic educator).”
One of the strategies that Jenkins recommends for reducing both obesity and diabetes is breastfeeding. She points to research that shows that babies who breastfeed learn to regulate their intake, limiting it to only what they need. On the other hand, in their eagerness to nourish their babies, mothers, who bottle-feed them, can ignore the babies’ signals that they are full and urge more food on their babies than they need. Breastfeeding also is linked to a reduction in diabetes.
This article was originally published in the Summer, 2009 issue of Winds of Change. (The cover artist is William Rabbit, Cherokee.)