Background

Jen is an APD who graduated in 2003 with a B. Hth Sc (Nutrition and Dietetics) from The University of Newcastle in NSW. For the first 5 years of her career she enjoyed working as a clinical dietitian in large teaching hospitals in Newcastle and Sydney in a range of clinical areas and especially enjoyed her time in the Severe Burns Unit at RNSH.  In 2007 Jen was looking for a new challenge so took an opportunity to work in private practice part time (on top of her full time role at the hospital) and enjoyed the different case mix and new role of business owner.

In 2008 Jen moved to sunny Queensland with her now husband for a change in lifestyle, leaving behind her permanent role for a 5 month locum at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, before gaining a permanent position at The Prince Charles Hospital. She loved working in the areas of Eating disorders and ICU, but it was here that Jen found her passion for Food Service Management and Gastroenterology where she counts Implementing the Australian Standards for Texture Modified Meals and Fluids, expanding the role of dietetic assistants and establishing TPCH’s first gastroenterology outpatient clinic among her achievements.

In 2010 Jen accepted the role of Acting Team Leader at RBWH and has been there ever since. She established the hospitals first ‘Dietitian Led Gastro Clinic’ where she works in advanced scope of practice and was one of the first allied health practitioners in QLD to become credentialed to request pathology. She has contributed to Medicare Local Map of Medicine pathways for IBS, GORD and Dyspepsia, and Qld Health Gastroenterology Clinical Prioritisation Pathways which aim to improve access to public gastroenterology services for all Queenslanders.

In her role as Food Service Dietitian Jen conducted a major menu review to meet the requirements of the Queensland Health Nutrition Standards for Meals and Menu’s and was a member of the Statewide Foodservices Network Nutrition Standards Work Group who reviewed these standards in 2015. She is currently a project leader for the implementation of RBWH’s first electronic patient meal management system.

Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
I’m woken up at 4:30am by my almost 2 year old daughter who shares my love for early starts and food! I currently work 4 days a week, so after dropping the children at day care I start my work day by 7:30am with coffee and a quick scan of my emails and diary.

I’m currently ‘off line’ working on the implementation of our hospitals first electronic patient meal management system. It’s a large multidisciplinary project and I am leading a small team of a dietitian and dietetic assistant in the data entry phase. It’s an exciting and challenging role. We meet daily to discuss progress and we’re all working hard to meet tight deadlines. I spend time to make sure my team members are feeling comfortable and confident with their allocated tasks. I’m pro-active and enthusiastic when I liaise with key stakeholders and sponsors.  I attend project and planning meetings to ensure our goals align, but mostly in this current phase of the project I’m in a computer training room with my amazing, hard-working team entering food, nutrition, menu and food service process data. At the end of the day I provide updates on task completion rates and raise risks as required to project managers and sponsors.

 I’m currently enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration, so once everyone at home is fed, stories are read and the children are in bed I’ll do some reading, coursework or attend an online tutorial.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I love working as part of a team. I’m inspired daily by my colleagues and mentors and I enjoy supporting others in the accomplishment of their and our common goals. I also love the challenges of meeting the complex nutritional needs of hospitalised patients and the ability and reward in making informed decisions and improvements that influence the nutritional status and satisfaction of large groups of hospital patients. This year our team has introduced higher protein soups, sushi, croissants, hamburgers, and a ‘wrap and roll’ buffet to the hospital menu and patients love it!

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

Be open to accepting positions and gaining experiences in a range of practice areas and settings. It can be surprising where you’ll find your passion.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I love camping in our pop top caravan with my family. Beachside in Summer or out in the country with an open fire in Winter.