Rachel Jeffery

1.  Background

Rachel graduated in 1990 with a Masters degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Flinders University. After initially struggling to get work as a new graduate dietitian for 6 months she was eventually successful in securing a number of locum positions in Adelaide and regional South Australia. Rachel also spent four years working overseas in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Upon returning to Australia in 2000 Rachel found herself working as a Dietitian in a wide mix of roles including community, media and in the acute hospital setting, securing a senior dietitian role at Alfred Health.

Rachel says “What happened next, I call my early mid-life crisis. I questioned my career and wondered if all I was ever going to be was a dietitian. While I loved being a dietitian, I also did not want to limit myself to just this one profession”. Over the next few years Rachel up-skilled and attended courses in career change and project management.

Rachel now works at the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) as a Claims Manager, with a team of 10 staff who have around 200 clients who have been involved in a traumatic road traffic accident which resulted in a spinal Injury. Rachel reflects that her background as a dietitian working with patients in ICU, Trauma and Burns units following serious injuries gave her the experience and skills required to manage staff and clients at the TAC. Rachel enjoyed the challenges of her new career but after a few years also found herself missing dietetics. So when an opportunity arose about three years ago to join an Allied Health team starting a new private practice, despite reservations, Rachel went for it.  Now combining the best of both worlds Rachel still works at the TAC as well as conducting four sessions a week in private practice. Rachel says “I will admit it is tiring, but I love it!”.

2.   Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you? 

At the TAC, I manage a team of Claims officers whose clients have had a spinal injury as a result of a traumatic road traffic accident. The team is busy supporting these clients to make them as independent as possible; aiming to support them to be less dependent on services and get their life back in track.

Three afternoons a week and on Saturdays, I conduct private practice across locations in the Greater Geelong area in Victoria.  I see a multitude of clients and support them to achieve their nutrition goals.

My days are busy often starting in the office at 8am, attending meetings, client reviews, managing staff and providing a coaching role to support others, to achieve their career progression. The days I have clinic, I am normally flying out the door at 4pm to get to private practice, which usually takes me through to 8pm at night. It can be a long day, but I’m used to it now and do not know what I did with all the spare time when I was not working two jobs. And from time to time I dabble in some media work.

3. What do you most enjoy about your role? 

Working both jobs and having two roles allows me to do everything I want.  Both roles enable me to support and educate other people, allowing me to share skills and knowledge.

At the TAC, I am a Manager and with my various roles there I can manage projects, contracts and support the business to deliver new and innovative ways to manage clients who have had a catastrophic injury.

At my private practice, I love seeing clients and learning about their nutrition related issues; working with them to achieve their goals. This role also enables me to work in my areas of passion including sports nutrition and group education; delivering talks and sessions.

4. Tell me a little bit about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose dietetics as a career?

I have been a dietitian for 25 years. I have been so lucky to work in many different settings as well as many states and countries.  I have learnt that the skills and experience I have as a dietitian has enabled me to stretch my wings and work in several ‘non’ traditional nutrition fields. Food is a passion, helping others and coaching people is what I like to do most, so being a dietitian gives me a great mix of all three things.

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

Try everything, do not limit yourself and remember the skills you have as a dietitian can be used in a wide variety of settings.

6. What is one interesting fact about you? 

I was a terrible student, I still am. But I have found if you work hard, are enthusiastic and are prepared to step outside your comfort zone, you can achieve what you want.