National Registered Dietitian Day has heightened significance for 3 UCLA Health RDs

RD image for national registered dietitian day
Stacey McMahon, RD, left, Lisa Davis, RD, and Diana Saikali, RD.

The second Wednesday in March marks National Registered Dietitian Day, and for a trio of UCLA Health dietitians, this year’s recognition has even greater personal significance as they prepare to retire.  

Lisa Davis, RD, Diana Saikali, RD, and Stacey McMahon, RD,  have a combined professional tenure of more than 77 years. This year, all three are concluding their careers with UCLA Health.

Education and awareness

For Davis, raising awareness about their field is the most important impact of National Registered Dietitian Day.

“We are an important, but often misunderstood, part of the health care team,” Davis said. “Sometimes people think we work in the kitchen preparing food. They don’t understand the vast nutrition knowledge we have and what we can share with them.”

In spite of her upcoming retirement, McMahon said she looks forward to new advances in the field of nutrition.

“There will always be opportunities for improvement in health care,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to learn about innovative new practices in nutrition.”

McMahon, with 25 years of service, has been on the cutting edge of nutrition advances at UCLA Health. She was instrumental in developing a special “graft versus host disease diet” for stem cell transplant patients.

During her years at UCLA, Saikali has made similar important contributions. “My greatest contribution has been increasing visibility of pediatrics as a specialty within my department, and the creation of the Nutrition Lab in 2010,” she said.

She continued, “I have been at UCLA for more than 37 years, and I’m the longest-serving RD at UCLA, and possibly in the entire UC system.”

What they’ll miss most

Saikali said UCLA has been a part of her life since her youth. “This has been my second home. I grew up at UCLA, coming in as a fairly new dietitian and experiencing all phases of my personal life while here. I met my husband, had two children, and I’m now a grandma of a beautiful grandson — this all while working at UCLA.”

Saying goodbye to their colleagues will be difficult. “I will miss being part of a unique health care team,” said McMahon. “UCLA has been a huge part of my life, and my colleagues are a part of my family.”

Davis, with more than 15 years at UCLA Health under her belt, echoed her peers’ sentiments. “I am really going to miss my dietitian colleagues, my patients and being a part of their health journey,” she said.

Learn more about clinical nutrition at UCLA Health.