Background

Jessica completed her Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of the Sunshine Coast in QLD in 2010. Jessica then went on to a full-time clinical dietitian position at Bundaberg Hospital for four years. During her first graduate year Jessica also worked as the sole dietitian providing nutrition support to the Friendly Society Private Hospital in Bundaberg. Jessica reflects how fortunate she was to work with several highly experienced dietitians and gain experience in a variety of clinical inpatient and outpatient settings early in her career. When Jessica became interested in nutrition support for gastrointestinal disease and surgery she took the lead on the ERAS program for colorectal surgery patients which further provided her with the opportunity to rapidly increase her clinical knowledge and leadership skills.

In 2015, Jessica decided to step out of her comfort zone and full-fill her dream of experiencing new landscapes by taking an 8 month around-the-world holiday travelling across the Americas, Europe and Asia. On returning to Australia Jessica resumed her position at Bundaberg Hospital but this time in a Senior position. This role involves a clinical caseload in Intensive Care and taking on the clinical educator role. Jessica has recently accepted a position at Caboolture Hospital where she will continue to work in ICU as well as a surgical unit.

Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?

The start of my day involves planning and prioritising my clinical and non clinical caseload, liaising with our Allied Heath Assistant to assist with the screening of patients, handover with other dietitians and attending MDT meetings. In my current role my daily caseload can range from covering our ICU, medical, surgical and rehabilitation wards depending upon which staff need extra support, to providing education on ERAS to our new doctors, auditing quality improvement projects, providing clinical supervision with students, seeing outpatients in our post acute and ERAS clinics and participating in food service meetings. Most recently, I have been dedicating any non-clinical time into rolling out and evaluating our ERAS program in orthopedic surgery by meeting with our orthopedic surgeons, anesthetic team, nursing staff, theatre staff and physiotherapy.

I am lucky to have such a beautiful coastline within a short distance from my work so I enjoy spending most of my spare time at the beaches surrounding Bundaberg.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I really enjoy the variety that comes with the new role I have taken on this year and the opportunities I’ve been given to up-skill in areas such as Intensive Care, clinical supervision and different quality improvement projects. I have to be able to take each day as it comes to cover a variety of different caseloads whilst also supporting other staff with complex patients and supervising students, this allows for a lot of diversity in my position.

What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics?

Be ready to work hard and learn as much from your mentor and work colleagues as you can- and have fun! This will set you up with invaluable skills for the rest of your career.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I love going on adventures that involve trekking and being in the ocean. During my travels last year I hiked the Inca trail and Everest base camp, swam with whale sharks in Mexico and became an open water diver in Thailand.