Mentoring Profile: Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RDN, CPT, Rush Medical College

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RDN, CPT, assistant professor and director of lifestyle programs in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush Medical College, joined Rush in September 2002.

Tell us about your background

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer. I do consulting in the Chicagoland area with individuals and organizations that are interested in behavior change in order to pursue healthy living. I am also an assistant professor, and I direct the lifestyle programs offered by the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. I am certified in adult weight management and have expertise in the design and implementation of clinical and workplace wellness programs that are focused on fostering sustainable lifestyle change. I have more than 12 years of clinical and teaching experience in nutrition and physical activity.

What inspired you to get into your field?

My father died at age 45 after suffering through a series of heart attacks and, ultimately, a failed heart transplant. It didn’t take long for me to make the connection that a lifestyle of poor food choices and physical inactivity was the main driver of this type of suffering. I wanted to teach people about the role of nutrition and activity in healthy living and inspire them to make behavior changes.

What excites you about your work at Rush?

I have the opportunity to work with internationally recognized researchers to utilize existing, evidence-based recommendations for disease prevention and management and to develop new ones. I’m proud to be in an environment that is challenging and allows me to combine research activities with clinical care.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

It is important to have mentors within and outside of your scope of practice. I have had mentors since the beginning of my training from whom I continue to learn and mentors who are experts outside my field who have inspired me to expand my scope of practice.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Keep an open mind. Dietetics is a field in which there are endless possibilities. You may not know where your passion lies until you experience it. Networking is key! Spend some time interacting with nutrition/fitness professionals in areas you think you may enjoy. And save those business cards!

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I’ve always been a “people person,” so family and friends really fill me up. Travel and social events with loved ones are important to me. I also need my alone time. Mindfulness and meditation practice have changed the way I deal with stress and helped me enjoy life more fully.