Background

Jeanne is an APD who graduated in 2001 with a B.Sc (Hons) Dietetics from the University of the Free State in South Africa. Jeanne then spent the following five years working as a clinical dietitian at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, England. Jeanne reflects that this opportunity allowed her to gain a vast degree of clinical experience in a variety of areas such as: oncology, renal, nutritional support, cardiac units, care of the elderly, urology, infectious diseases, diabetes gastroenterology, stroke, liver disease, respiratory and mental health. Jeanne’s interest in oncology led her to pursue a career that spanned over 8 years, as an Advanced Specialist Oro-maxillofacial and ENT dietitian at North West London Hospital Trust. Dedicating herself to the development of the Head and Neck oncology services across two large London Cancer Networks, mapping the patient journeys and developing care pathways. Jeanne also had the opportunity to assess, review and make recommendations to Cancer services across London as part of a Multidisciplinary Cancer Peer Review Team. Jeanne was involved in research projects and presented at BAPEN and published an abstract on “How to monitor the Position of nasogastric tubes” in Nutrition Today 2008. Jeanne took on the role as North West London Hospital Trust Acute Service Manager in 2007. This role encompassed four different public and private hospital sites. Jeanne thoroughly enjoyed developing the skill base of the dietetics team and raising the profile of the department. Jeanne established a robust clinical governance programme, standardised clinical practice across all sites, developed, reviewed and recommended service efficiencies in out-patient clinics, implemented local and national Policies, secured funding for additional dietetic positions, oversaw student training and successfully implemented and monitored large hotel service and enteral feeding contracts as part of a consortium.

In early 2014, Jeanne decided to pursue her dietetics career further by immigrating to Melbourne, Australia and took up a Grade 3 Specialist Dietetics role in Oncology, rehabilitation and ambulatory care at Cabrini Health in Melbourne. She has led on the local Phase II: Point Prevalence study and published an abstract for Cabrini research day in 2015. Currently she is working on a poster presentation to highlight malnutrition within cancer services.

Describe a typical day for you

My day starts with a regular team meeting to discuss the clinical caseload and prioritisation of non-clinical duties. Most days will be quite varied as I analyse data, research articles, and write reports. Today I will complete and analyse the final findings of the local Phase II: Point Prevalence Study. I prioritise staff development and have regular one on one sessions to ensure everyone’s goals align, problems are identified early and projects are kept on track with developmental opportunities identified. I have regular meetings with service managers to discuss expectations and service improvement strategies. I am also in the process of rolling out a Dietetic Assistant competency framework as well as finalising numerous clinical guidelines for specialist dietitians in the department. I attend MDT meetings and carry my own clinical caseload and help the team out where needed. I am proactive with my learning and will often undertake self-directed learning on topics that I encounter in my clinical practice.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy multidisciplinary teamwork and ensuring the best possible evidence based clinical care for our patient’s. I get a lot of job satisfaction out of methodically and precisely mapping and developing clinical services strategy and obtaining feedback from patients and the multidisciplinary team. I enjoy working with a broad based group of dietitians who are pro-active and highly patient focused in their delivery and implementation of evidence based clinical care. I enjoy the wide variety of projects and changes encountered in the nutrition world.

Why did you choose dietetics as a career?

As part of my work experience in my teens, I enjoyed meeting with people from various backgrounds and learning about different cultural eating habits and traditions. Food forms a big part of our daily lives: socialising, preparing, eating, encouraging, and so forth. Growing up in South Africa, my initial aims were to make a difference to the many children in our country who were extremely malnourished. I truly believed that I could make a difference, and I wanted initially to pursue a career as a community/public health dietitian to work on practical strategies to help improve malnutrition amongst children in deprived areas and shanty towns.

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

Be personable, open to new ideas and be willing to learn. Attempt to get as wide a range of clinical skills as possible prior to specialising, and to make sure you have a good foundation and overview of dietetics.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I have an in depth knowledge and experience of working in three separate countries dietetics services, implementing various strategies in each. This I believe gives me a unique insight in to global healthcare and nutrition. I was also awarded a Golden Key International Award in 2001.