Claire Nichols is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and co-founder of Kalix, a cloud-based EMR and practice management solution, used by hundreds of dietitians across Australia and the United States. Claire previously worked as a private practice dietitian in Melbourne and as a Senior Dietitian for North West Area Health Service in Tasmania. Claire has a strong interest in research, evidence-based practice and Health IT.
Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
I suppose I do not have the ‘typical’ dietitian job, but I would argue, what is a typical dietitian job, the careers available in dietetics are so diverse.
I work full time as managing director of Kalix. What I do exactly? My job is very varied, I am often found designing and testing new features in Kalix or reviewing older ones and trying to make them more user friendly.
I provide support to our customers, helping them to use Kalix in a way that best meets their needs. I also complete marketing (including social media), graphic design and business planning related tasks.
I do not work the typical 9-5, Monday to Friday hours either, with many of Kalix’s customers in the United States, there are lots of late nights.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
Through Kalix, I have the opportunity to meet many wonderful dietitians doing amazing things in dietetics. I get to travel to the United States and I mostly work from home. Yep no early morning commutes for me!
But what I enjoy most about my job is the freedom to be innovative and creativity. Plus it’s great being my own boss!
Tell me a little bit about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose dietetics as a career?
I am fairly typical dietitian, I love food and cooking. I chose to study dietetics as I wanted a career in healthcare, but without the stress or mess doctors and nurses have to deal with. As a student I planned to be a clinical dietitian, I never imagined that I would be where I am now.
My career thus far is very much tied into the story of Kalix, so I will share it with you briefly. The idea for Kalix was born in 2012, while I was working in North West Tasmania as sole dietitan in a multi- disciplinary orthopaedic team. My position was not permanent. I needed a quick and simple way to analyse the effectiveness of my work, to show the positive outcomes I was achieving for my patients and therefore keep my job. Back then I thought, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a system that combined service evaluation with something that I had to do like medical notes entry. And so Kalix was born.
Kalix was launched in September 2012 as an electronic documentation system, using the Nutrition Care Process Terminology (previously called IDNT). In May 2013, Kalix was relaunched as a complete practice management solution. Kalix achieved HIPAA compliance (compliance with the USA privacy and security standards for health information) in October last year and we started licensing it there this January. I hope this is just the beginning for Kalix, I have rather large plans for it in the future.
What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics?
Say yes, volunteer and try new things as much as possible. You never know where a new opportunity will lead.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I’m not very tech savvy and I cannot code. I did not own a tablet until two years ago. Interestingly, this is actually an advantage in my job, I find it helps me to identify Kalix’s “pain points”.