Meet the Expert: Katharine Jeffcoat

This week, we're excited to feature Katharine Jeffcoat, RDN, LD, CLT! Katharine has her own private practice, Portland Pediatric Nutrition, located in Portland, Oregon. She has 17 years of experience in the field of nutrition and specifies in helping children and their families develop healthy relationships with food. When she's not helping other families with eating habits, Katharine loves spending time with her own two children. Join us as we chat with Katharine and hear about her career in nutrition and dietetics!

Healthy Bytes: Hi Katharine- we're really excited to be talking with you today and learning about your niche area of nutrition! To start us off, can you tell us what inspired you to get started in nutrition? 

Katharine Jeffcoat: My interest in nutrition started in high school when I was on the cross-country running team. For the first time, I discovered how fueling my body with the right type of foods (carbohydrates), gave me more energy for my long runs.  So, at that time, I became interested in learning as much as I could about nutrition. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college, and was working for minimum wage at a health club, that I discovered I could actually work in a field that fascinated me and become a dietitian, so I went back to school.

What would you say makes your practice special? 

I specialize in pediatrics, and my clients range from prenatal to college students. There are no other dietitians in private practice in my area who specializing in this younger population. I have young kids myself, making it easy to relate to a lot of the common issues families come to see me for. 

What advice would you give to new RDs as an experienced dietitian? 

I encourage new RDs interested in private practice to get some experience working in clinical at a hospital or outpatient clinic.  I had great experiences collaborating with other specialists at the hospital, which taught me a lot. That helps me today in my private practice.  Also,  I encourage a new RD to network with other like-minded people working in the same specialty.  I am always learning from others; nutrition is such an evolving and changing field.  

You said it yourself that nutrition is a changing field. What change do you hope to see in the field of nutrition and dietetics? 

I’m loving the opportunities on the horizon in the virtual nutrition field.  I have already worked with a few clients out of my area virtually.  Currently, virtual sessions aren’t reimbursed in Oregon by any insurance plan I work with, but I hope this will change in the future.  

During your time in the field, what's the most fascinating thing you've learned? 

The things I have learned as an RD in private practice are things I never really thought I’d have to know. I’ve had so much fun learning about and growing in social media!  I just got my business on Instagram this past month (better late than never), and have been learning ways to promote myself over social media using Facebook business, Twitter, and mail chimp newsletters.   

As a dietitian who takes insurance, how has accepting it benefited your practice? 

Clients are more likely to see me for multiple visits when their insurance is paying.  I also give a reduced self-pay rate when they don’t have nutrition benefits and aren't covered by insurance, so I’m paid more for visits for those with insurance.  Clients can also find me when I’m a provider with their insurance, I’ll be listed on their insurance’s website.  

It's great that taking insurance has helped you find more clients! What's been the most surprising thing you've found about taking insurance? 

Well, perhaps no surprise, but my occasional frustration with insurance when I started off, and had to call and figure out why a claim wasn’t paid.  The time it took to do this and correct claims was a big time suck.  I’m grateful to have found Healthy Bytes, which has saved me so much time!   What has surprised me the most is that all insurance plans are so different.  BCBS may cover for one person, but for the other it won’t cover.  This is why I now rely on Healthy Bytes to do insurance verification prior to my clients coming in, so there are no surprises with their coverage. 

Before we wrap up, can you tell us about one of your favorite success stories with a patient? 

The most recent is a Mom I worked with virtually to help her with her toddler. She was complaining her toddler wasn’t eating much during the day and waking up at night wanting a bottle. We discovered she was giving him too much milk in the day and filling him up, so he wasn’t eating much food.  Once she cut back on the milk he received in the day, he started coming to the dinner table hungry and eating a large meal. It has improved his sleep. 

Thanks, Katharine! 

Parts of this interview have been shortened and edited.