What is your current job title/s?
Community Dietitian at Healthier Great Green Way (Far North Queensland Docs) and Private Practice Dietitian at Eat Me Nutrition (Brisbane)
Could you tell me about your background?
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) from the Queensland University of Technology a brisk 8 months ago, I’m still a dietitian on training wheels. I’ve lived in Brisbane my whole life, and when offered the position as the Community Dietitian at Healthier Great Green Way – I jumped. Before I knew it, I was moving my life to far North Queensland to join a team of allied health professionals in the rural community of Innisfail and it’s surrounds. I’m currently getting hands-on experience interacting with clients and strengthening partnerships with health care providers as a dietitian.
During uni, I developed a strong passion for research and I have my heart set on revisiting this in the future. I also have a burning desire to pursue a career in nutrition journalism, as I recognize the importance of sending accurate public health messages through a variety of avenues to engage audiences. Emma Stirling was kind enough to show me the ins-and-outs of social media platforms as a Sub-Editor of the month for the Scoop on Nutrition (which helps when you’re as technologically challenged as I am).
Tell me about your job/s, and describe a typical day for you?
Pre-chaos. My morning ritual involves jumping on the computer to check my appointments with clients for the day and their reason for referral. All within the space of 20 minutes, I’m off to see my first client, which involves travelling to wherever I am needed in North Queensland, from Tully to Babinda to Mission Beach, or just locally at the main clinic in Innisfail.
Action. Appointments are usually back-to-back (the dietitian is popular), but I try to take advantage of every spare minute I have by researching evidence based guidelines and the literature, editing resources, checking medications or conditions that I’m unsure about and writing letters to general practitioners to keep them in the loop about a patient’s care. I communicate to members of the multidisciplinary team regularly, to ensure that patients are receiving integrated care, creating internal referrals where necessary and also to dabble in a bit of quality team-bonding. Working with such amazing and welcoming colleagues has opened my eyes as to how much I have to learn from each allied health profession.
I am also in the midst of designing a community health project for dietary management of Type 2 Diabetes, which will form a part of a program run by an exercise physiologist and a psychologist.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Everything that I have learnt in university is materializing; it is good to finally utilize, and understand, the importance of putting frameworks, theories and counseling skills into practice! I enjoy taking time to work with clients, discovering what makes them ‘tick’ and thinking laterally to empower clients to use dietary tactics and health behaviour techniques to self-manage their chronic diseases; which is crucial in a rural environment where resources are scarce. Not only is it rewarding, but very enlightening to observe clients overcome their barriers, within a setting that values strong community spirit.
Tell me a little about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose dietetics as a career?
The concept of nutrition was brought to my consciousness from an early age- is it bizarre that I remember attending ‘Weight Watchers’ meetings with my mother when I was a very young child (and refused to go into the childcare? Who does that?). Anyway, I fell inlove with idea of nutrition and the significant impact it has on everyone’s life when I was teenager. I absolutely loved Home Economics at school. This led to a life built around food: learning about it, eating it, and cooking it (yet, I’m still finding it a war in the kitchen; not the most culinary skilled dietitian, but I’m trying!).
As my career develops, I’m learning to love the challenging and intricate nature of dietetics; it’s never as simple as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘black’ and ‘white’.
What would be your top 3 tips to someone starting their career in dietetics?
Do your research: call or network with prospective employers. Persist with each appealing employer by going beyond their expectations to appear more than just an ordinary candidate in the career hunt. This is one way to demonstrate your confidence and enthusiasm, and is a stronger indication of your personality than a string of words on paper.
Self reflect: use every life experience as an opportunity to apply to the world of dietetics. Write down your learnings and reflect upon how this has enhanced your skill set, to turn your inexperience into innovation.
Take (calculated!) risks: jump into the deep end and listen to your intuition. Going rural (which I never thought I would do) has been one of the most daunting, yet enthralling adventures that I have ever embarked on. Be open (and brave) to take the opportunities that present themselves.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I could be one of the world’s biggest book fans; I love reading, writing and literature. Right now I’m reading a book called ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ by David Sedaris. Funnily enough, this book is quite abstract and it has nothing to do with diabetes. I believe a dash of creativity and a pinch of irrelevance is important shake up life; it helps you to think outside of the box. Talking about shakes, a less interesting fact about me is that I’ve worked at Boost Juice for 5 and half years. I know my way around (a potentially healthy) smoothie. This work environment has kept my mind fresh and has encouraged me to mix things up to keep creative. Fin.