Nicole Kiss is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Senior Clinician (Dietitian) at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. After completing her Master in Nutrition and Dietetics at Deakin Univeristy she worked in a variety of clinical areas prior to commencing at Peter Mac. She has over ten years specialist experience in oncology nutrition and is currently undertaking her PhD in nutrition during radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer.
Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
At the moment every day is different and can be at a different location. I am working one day clinically and study for my PhD full time. So my days are filled with combinations of recruiting patients to my study, collecting data, writing manuscripts, seeing patients, project management, mentoring and attending conferences or seminars.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
The variety I have at the moment keeps everything interesting. When I’m working with patients I particularly enjoy the feeling when I have really been able to help someone. Within my research I love analysing my data and looking at what information has been found and thinking through how it can apply to clinical practice or further research.
Tell me a little bit about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose dietetics as a career?
I started by studying a Bachelor of Science and in my final year took two nutrition physiology subjects which got me interested in nutrition so I applied for the Master of Nutrition and Dietetics. I knew I wanted to work with people, not in a lab, so dietetics was perfect for me. After graduating I started working clinically in a variety of areas and then found my niche in oncology. Over the last seven years I have combined working clinically with a number of project management roles and increased my research work which led to starting my PhD.
Any aspect of nutrition and cancer, investigating interventions with the potential to improve outcomes for patients, identification of patients at high nutritional risk and new and innovative models of care.
How did you get into research?
Peter Mac is a large research centre as well as a hospital and I became increasingly aware of how research can inform and improve clinical practice. I enrolled in a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Methods which gave me a good basic understanding of research methods and started doing some nutrition intervention studies in collaboration with my multidisciplinary colleagues. I was lucky to have a great mentor who could see my interest in research and encouraged me to undertake a PhD.
Why do you undertake research?
Over the last ten years some very good quality research has been completed on nutrition during cancer treatment and we now have several evidence based guidelines that reflect the findings from those studies. But there are still gaps in our knowledge that need to be filled. I undertake research to try and help fill those gaps and hopefully find more effective ways to manage patients or gain more insight into the effect of cancer treatment on peoples nutritional status.
What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics?
Get involved in the profession as much as you can, try new things and different areas of practice and find the area you are passionate about.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I am a passionate baker. I love baking and decorating cakes, cookies, desserts and especially kids birthday cakes. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for a dietitian to admit!