BGSU alumna, renowned nutrition expert, authors book to aid dietitians in asserting professional authority
Dr. Susan Calvert Finn ‘66 gives the keynote address at the 2023 Nutrition Authority event at BGSU
By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07
As a respected leader in food and nutrition, Dr. Susan Calvert Finn ‘66 is working to strengthen the authority of registered dietitians as knowledgeable and trusted resources within the profession, especially to combat societal distrust of science.
Finn, a distinguished alumna, returned to Bowling Green State University April 10 as the keynote speaker for the 2023 Nutrition Authority event co-presented by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the University’s food and nutrition programs.
During the event, Finn presented an overview of her new book, “Nutrition Authority: Perspective on Opportunity,” to an audience that included undergraduate students majoring in dietetics and nutrition sciences and graduate students pursuing a master’s in food and nutrition, among other University dignitaries.
“I wrote this book to underscore to dietitians and future dietitians how important they are to the health of the world,” Finn said. “They have a significant responsibility in keeping people well, and that’s a very important purpose in this world.”
Finn hopes the book inspires dietitians — whether they’re just starting out or long into their careers — to assert leadership and authority by understanding the past, relying on science as a foundation and exploring emerging technologies. Those three pillars are described in detail in the book, which also includes Finn’s experiences and interviews with leading nutrition professionals.
A growing challenge for dietitians is the public’s historical mistrust of science and health information — a problem exacerbated by the global pandemic. Finn said the barrage of information online contributes to the issue by diluting reputable science-based information.
“Nutrition is a very exciting field, but you have all these different voices giving advice today,” she said. “Dietitians are highly competent individuals with master’s degrees at entry level.
“I really believe we have to stand up and be an authority, an authority that is knowledgeable and respected.”
As the former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Finn also is a strong proponent of dietitians joining professional organizations to bolster their credentials further.
“If you’re a dietitian in a hospital or a corporation somewhere, your voice isn’t going to be as loud as it could be if it’s amplified with the backing of a national organization,” she said. “Our united voice is much more effective as we build trust with patients and the public.”
Finn headed nutrition services for the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories (now Abbott Nutrition) for nearly 30 years, where she advocated for making nutrition screening and support integral elements of healthcare.
She has served as a top-level advisor to professional societies, educational institutions and industry as a recognized leader and respected food, nutrition and health communicator.
Finn has received numerous honors throughout her career, including the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the highest honor from the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition. She is widely published in professional journals and consumer magazines and co-authored two other health and nutrition books.
Finn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from BGSU, earned a master’s degree in public health nutrition from Case Western University and a doctorate in nutrition science from The Ohio State University.
Updated: 04/10/2023 04:00PM