Highlighting a Dietetics Professional
Connie Locher-Bussard, LDN, RD
Q: Tell us your story about how you became a registered dietitian.
A: I became a dietitian because I flunked typing and shorthand in high school, so I couldn’t become a secretary, did not want to be a teacher, a nurse or a nun. My mother had a friend who was a dietitian making the grand salary of $450 a month. Realize this was when a year’s salary was $4,000. So, I went to Clarke College, majored in Foods and Nutrition, accepted the internship at Charity Hospital at New Orleans and then stayed there on staff.
Q: What was your career path?
A: I spent 4 years in New Orleans as a therapeutic dietitian. I had Female Medicine (300 patients), Pediatrics (250 patients), and the Doctors and Nurses Infirmary (25 patients). I also taught medical students and supervised interns. We made all our own tube feedings, in blenders, mixed our own formula that went into glass bottles with nipples and paper caps over them to be autoclaved and filled in wherever we were needed. During one hurricane year, the elevator shafts filled with water and all the meals needed to be passed hand by hand in a human chain up the flights of stairs to each floor pantry to be served, and we had 12 floors in our main building alone. In all, we served 5,000 meals per day with patients, out buildings with quaint names like Tuberculosis Building, Infectious Diseases. I saw everything from Kwashiorkor to Leprosy. I returned to Iowa to start the first alumnae office at Clarke and met and married my husband in 1960 and moved to Springfield, joined CDDA and have been a member ever since. I stayed home for 18 years with children and started back to work as a consultant at McFarland Mental Health Center, and then picked up a full schedule of part time positions. I liked to describe it as freelance dietitian. I’ll try anything.
Q: You have been instrumental in the Illinois licensure for registered dietitians. Tell us about that. What led you to become and stay involved and dedicated?
A: I got involved in legislation in the 1980’s working with Lee Roach, and then got really involved in the licensure effort in 1992. Lee did all the writing. I did the leg work, listening, revising and implementing. I was appointed to the License Board after our 2002 licensure act took effect. When Lee left in 2005, I became chair of the board and wrote all the opinions on all the complaints made to the enforcement department. Never once was I unable to find exactly what I needed in our licensure act. I have served as the Illinois Public Policy downstate chair for 10-plus years implementing Lobby Day and going to the Capitol at a moment’s notice to give testimony on legislation. I also worked on the Illinois Council on Food and Agriculture Research as the IDA representative serving 8 years on the Board of Directors. Some of those folks in CFAR were so impressed by our Illinois Dietitians; I think they thought we walked on water. I am still involved in the renewal of our licensure, which sunsets next January, and am the IDA Licensure Liaison. In this position, I get calls and emails with questions from all over regarding Illinois Licensure of Dietitians Nutritionist.
Q: What would you like to share with your fellow dietitian colleagues throughout the state?
A: My advice to all you “younger” colleagues in Illinois is.....get involved, get involved, get involved. You will never regret it. We need the new young dietitians!!!!
Q: Finally, any chance of slowing down?
A: I do not plan to retire, but have slowed down a bit. I love to travel, the more exotic the better, and I have 30 books in a basket awaiting reading.