Meet Kerri Hawkins! Kerri is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. She takes a unique approach to nutrition at Family Practice Group, where she works collaboratively with psychologists, physicians, and even social workers to help people make lasting health habits. Kerri is a co-founder of the non-profit, Wellness Campaign where others can learn how to integrate this approach to wellness into their daily lives. We at Healthie had the fortunate opportunity to speak with Kerri, to hear about her experience and what advice she has to share.
Kerri attended University of New Hampshire where she was originally interested in studying athletic training. Kerri had always been interested health and after taking a course on nutrition, she learned she could major in food and had to switch majors. Kerri graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition. She went on to pursue her Master’s degree and her dietetic internship at the Freidman School of Nutrition at Tufts University. Upon completing this program, Kerri went to seek out a career as a clinical dietitian but was quickly stopped by her mentor, who asked, “What are you doing?” Knowing Kerri, with her personality and love for athletics, he suggested instead that she try Bariatrics. In Bariatrics, Kerri was able to follow her passion for behavior modification.
Seven years ago, Kerri met Dr. Wayne Altman and together they created a series of wellness groups. These groups were a unique in how collaborative they were, including wellness, cooking, exercise, and sessions with psychologists. Kerri and Dr. Altman’s emphasis on the whole person, they found, led to greater success in behavior modification. They follow in the ideology “modification before medication.” Kerri joined Family Practice Group in Arlington, MA, which follows in this same collaborative medical model.
Out of the wellness groups Kerri and Wayne put together, came their non-profit, Wellness Campaign. Three years ago, Kerri was approached by one of their patients Josh Bernoff (best selling author) who asked if the two planned on writing a book. Kerri and Wayne’s groups have been effective and their approach to behavior modification is so unique they are currently working to scale up this concept, integrating dietitians into other family practices much like the one that Kerri is a part of. Wellness Campaign’s website currently host a number of resources for interested individuals such as videos and tools for how to get involved.
Kerri is also a certified personal trainer. She’s a year-round athlete – running, playing soccer, and skiing. Personal training is part of how she approaches nutrition in an all-encompassing way. While Kerri does not get to train individuals as much as she would like to, she often speaks at gyms, talks about exercise with her patients, and connects her patients with personal trainers that she knows.
For any dietetic student seeking advice, Kerri says, “think outside the box.” After all, Kerri’s job didn’t exist before she made her own career path. She advises, “Don’t be afraid to try something new and be a little wacky.”
As for the next step in Kerri’s practice, she’s looking to incorporate Telehealth as part of her blog DietitianDrive.com! Kerri explained that she used to blog often, but in the past year lost touch with it. This September, she’s returned to her blog, launched her Telehealth platform with Healthie, and is helping her patients make an impactful change. “Telehealth,” Kerri told us, “is a natural fit.” It is more convenient and also, patient-centered – something Kerri’s practice thrives for in all aspects. While Kerri isn’t giving up her in-person practice, Telehealth is one step that will help many of her clients make the change they are looking for.