My name is Caitlin Saunders, and I’m a Community Dietitian, based in Hobart, Tasmania.
Just like all dietitians, food is my passion. I’m particularly enthusiastic about local produce, and about food security and sustainability. I love growing my own veggies, cooking, and sharing a meal with my friends and family.
Why did you choose dietetics as a career?
Before I did my Nutrition and Dietetics degree, I majored in genetics – I’ve always been fascinated in health, and what makes people the way they are. But the more I learned the more I realised that our environment and our behaviours have far more of a bearing on our health than our genes do.
My honours project looked at dietary interventions for individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, and my supervisors were Professor Kerin O’Dea and Dr. Catherine Itsiopoulos. They inspired me to continue my studies and become an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Tell me about your career in dietetics thus far?
I graduated from Monash at the end of 2009, and took up an eight week locum position at the Royal Hobart Hospital – it seemed like the perfect time to go on an adventure. Since then, eight weeks has turned into four years, clinical has turned into community, and I’ve even acclimatised to Tasmanian winters!
When I first moved to Tasmania, I joined the DAA Tasmania’s branch executive – it was a fantastic way to meet other dietitians working in the state. For the past year I have been Chairperson for the Branch, which has given me a valuable opportunity to contribute back to my profession.
Describe a typical day for you?
I work as a Community Dietitian in Population Health Services – I love my work because it’s so varied, and each day brings a new challenge.
I support Tasmanian businesses to improve workplace nutrition, I provide professional development and resources for Community Nurses and Practice Nurses, and I support food security projects and programs across Tasmania. I’m also a media spokesperson for our workplace, and occasionally do interviews for local newspapers and radio.
My typical day also includes walking to and from work along the Hobart rivulet, which is a beautiful bushland walking track which runs from the suburbs into the centre of town. I can’t think of another capital city where you can see a platypus in the wild on your way to work each day!
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love preventive health, because to me it’s all about the ‘big picture’. Being a Community Dietitian means I can promote and support health and wellbeing for Tasmanians, and I can focus my attention and energy on keeping people healthy, rather than waiting until someone is already suffering from ill health before starting to work with them.
As a state, Tasmania is quite disadvantaged. Our population is the oldest in Australia, and Tasmanians suffer from relatively high rates of chronic disease. We also have high rates of unemployment and food insecurity. I love being in Tasmania because I know the work I do has a real impact here. I’m passionate about equity, and about creating environments that support the health of individuals and communities.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I love trying new activities, and constantly challenge myself with learning new skills and trying different sports. Unfortunately I also tend to injure myself in my more extreme pursuits!
Since I moved to Hobart I’ve tried rock climbing, surfing, and paddle-boarding, I’ve done gymnastics, cross-fit and circus classes. At the moment I love yoga and barrecode, and I’m getting ready to hike the overland track with my mum and dad at the end of February.