Our People

Why I Came, Why I Stayed: Chief clinical dietitian Deborah Willcox feels at home at Methodist

Published: Jan. 18, 2024

In “Why I Came, Why I Stayed,” you’ll get to know people who are making a difference every day at Methodist and how they contribute to providing The Meaning of Care. To explore career opportunities at Methodist, visit bestcare.org/jobs.


Deborah Willcox, RD, LMNT, LD
Chief Clinical Dietitian
Methodist Fremont Health


Tell us more about yourself and your background with Methodist.

I worked in Nutrition Services at what’s now Methodist Fremont Health during undergrad from 2001 to 2006. After graduating from college, I worked as a registered dietitian (RD) in a nursing home/long-term care facility in Fremont for five years. I then spent seven years working at a local critical access hospital, where I provided inpatient care and managed the outpatient diabetes education program. I then spent two years working as a community RD with Hy-Vee in Fremont and Columbus. I started in August 2020 at Methodist Hospital in Omaha as a clinical dietitian and was promoted to chief clinical dietitian at Methodist Fremont Health in April 2022.  

I love sports and movies, and I love being part of a big family. I’m the oldest of five kids.

My only child, Alyssa, played softball from a young age and earned a softball scholarship to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She recently got engaged and works as an interior designer at Brown Construction in Kearney. I also love being an aunt, and I spend as much time as I can with my nieces and nephews.

Nutrition and working in the community are my passions. If I have a chance to attend a fair or speaking engagement, I’ll volunteer to make it work. 


Why Methodist? What attracted you to the organization?

I was born and raised in Fremont, and I always wanted to serve my community. My mom worked at the Fremont hospital when I was younger, and I always wanted to work there, as well. I completed my dietetic internship in 2006 at Methodist Hospital in Omaha and loved it. The staff was always friendly and good at communicating. 

In 2020, when I was looking to return to a clinical setting, Methodist was my first choice. I loved the atmosphere and the culture. I wanted to work somewhere where management knows your name and things about your family – where they care about you as an individual. I don’t feel like a number at Methodist; I feel like a person and part of a bigger purpose. 

At Methodist, we also care about the patients and community on a higher level. We’re looking at the bigger picture and not just putting a Band-Aid on a small problem to get someone out the door. 

I have worked at other hospitals in Nebraska, but Methodist feels like home and a family.


Deborah Willcox with dietetic student Abby Torrie at the fall Women Connect event
Deborah Willcox with dietetics student Abby Torrie at the fall Women Connect event

What is it about Methodist that keeps you coming back?

My job at Methodist Fremont Health has allowed me to do a little bit of all the things I love. I get to provide inpatient care and use my clinical background. I’ve been attending many community events, such as the Fremont Hispanic Festival with the Nebraska Methodist College Mobile Diabetes Center. I get to work with Dodge County Head Start in Fremont, and I’ve been to several Women Connect events in Omaha.

We’ve recently increased the amount of nutrition activities I do with the hospital’s behavioral health floors. I also love that I’ve been able to work with Nebraska Methodist College to record a podcast about nutrition factors that affect different age groups. I’ve enjoyed being able to collaborate with our local health department in Fremont to give out information about different nutrition and disease processes. 

One thing that’s probably at the top of my list of what sets Methodist apart is the opportunity to grow. My managers have been supportive of me taking courses in quality improvement training. I also started my MBA this fall through Nebraska Methodist College. Employers that support your continued education are top-notch. I need and want that opportunity to better myself as an employee, but I also want to help my coworkers grow. 

I also love how inclusive we are of all the departments throughout the hospital. We want to celebrate everyone equally, and I love how we share information throughout the organization. 


Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Methodist that you can tell us about?

One thing I love about being back at Methodist Fremont Health is that there are several employees I worked with when I was in college who are also now in leadership roles. We were in college and high school around the time, and it’s as if we all grew up together. We take lunch together and talk about all the things that have changed over the years. It’s like a second family.


Have you had a mentor or colleague at Methodist who made a difference for you? Tell us more.

My supervisor Julie Juddi has made a huge impact on my career and personal life since I joined Methodist. When I was working in the Methodist Hospital Nutrition Services department as a clinical dietitian, one day she asked me if I had thought about applying for a manager position. She told me she could see my potential in a leadership role. That short conversation sparked a desire in me to want more and go after it. I didn’t get the management job in Omaha, but shortly after that I accepted a promotion to chief clinical dietitian at Methodist Fremont Health. I started taking all the classes I could through Best Care EAP and Methodist, and I continued to grow and want more. After some more encouragement and discussion with Julie last spring, I decided to go back and get my MBA at Nebraska Methodist College. 

It’s nice having a boss who encourages and challenges you. When you know you have that type of support, you feel like you can conquer just about anything.