After completing high school I decided to leave my country, rural lifestyle behind and embark on my career in dietetics. I moved to Melbourne and undertook a Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics at Monash University 2003-2007. I started my degree along with about thirty other students all of whom had some idea of what a dietitian does…didn’t we? Four years went by with heavy science theory and what seemed at times to be unending hospital clinical placements but I made it. A qualified dietitian!… but then what? I didn’t want to work in hospital dietetics and other jobs were thin on the ground. I decided further study was an option and completed a Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education through Deakin University and started looking for work… any work , a locum here and then and then I fell into the private practice world.
Working within private practice has given me great scope for variety. I’ve worked in individual & group consulting, consulted to aged care facilities and private hospitals, corporate nutrition, projects, training, auditing and food service dietetics. It often seems like no day is the same and I love that. I’ve combined this work overtime with experience in community health and feel that a few part time positions is probably what I’ll always settle with.
As it stands now I have three ‘dietitian hats’. I volunteer through DAA as the convenor of the Victorian Rehabilitation and Aged Care Interest Group (RACIG), work part time for Leading Nutrition (a large private dietitian practice) in the area of aged care dietetics, supervision and training and if all this wasn’t enough I decided to open my own private practice , The Food Clinic, where I provide individual consulting services alongside a Gastroenterology clinic.
What do I find most enjoyable about dietetics?
When it comes down to it , it’s probably the same as most. Dietetics for me is about helping clients! Whether it’s helping a palliative patient to have access to comfort foods, seeing a middle aged client achieve weight loss goals or assisting someone with a food intolerances when I see that person improve (be it through improved health markers or quality of life) then it gives me a real buzz and is what gets me out of bed each day. If there ever comes a days when I don’t value the small changes I help clients to achieve then that will be the day when it’s time to leave dietetics. My overall career goals at present are:
•To reduce malnutrition of older people living within the community and residential aged care settings
•Advocate for provision of nourishing foods for the elderly including food access
•To reduce the distress and discomfort caused by food allergy and intolerances
A typical work day for me?
In all honesty there isn’t one. I live by my diary and can be in a different place each day of the week. Some days I work from home on internal projects and business admin (and yes at times this is in my PJs and slippers) and other days I have my clinical hat on see clients all day. I also get the opportunity to travel around Australia providing nutrition training to nursing staff and catering managers and provide organisational and dietetic supervision to other consultant staff.
Why I chose dietetics?
It’s hard to recall specifics as my passion for dietetics has changed overtime but essentially I was really quote good at science and had an interest in food so that equals dietetics doesn’t it? If it wasn’t dietetics I probably would have worked in hotel management or some other hospitality area but dietetics won.
Tips for a dietitian just starting out?
Never rule any area of dietetics out til you give it a try. I never thought I’d work in aged care and I actually love it. Secondly don’t be dismayed if you dream job doesn’t pop up straight away, make the most of whatever is available. After graduation I actually spent time working in a real estate office and at kids after school care. Real estate gave me a great insight to business systems and at kids after school care was when I first used my food service dietetics skills in planning suitable menus.
Interesting fact about me?
Love that I now have a bigger back yard. ‘Can take the girl out of the country but not the country out of the girl’. I now have plenty of room for my cocker spaniel ‘Champ’ and my every expanding vege garden.