This Friday is Dietitians Day in Australia. On Friday I will be busy hiking to the southernmost point of mainland Australia with no internet or technology in sight (except my overworked FitBit). So I plan to celebrate Dietitians Day a little earlier than the rest of the country.
And what better way to celebrate our profession than to look at a snapshot of successful dietitians! I spoke with a small collection of dietitians and asked them exactly what they do in their day to day jobs.
Some science-focused readers could say I conducted a cross-sectional study on the diversity of dietitian’s roles within the Australian workforce. Note that I may have some bias in my selection process as I only chose to interview inspirational dietitians who I have learned from or had the pleasure of working with throughout my career.
Take a look at the varied roles us dietitians currently work in…
Claire Saundry, Sports dietitian
I work as a Sports Dietitian at the Western Bulldogs Football Club. I help elite athletes achieve their sports nutrition goals using the latest scientific evidence and turning this into practical sports nutrition recommendations. My favourite part of my job is conducting cooking classes and supermarket tours with the boys and developing menus for interstate travel. I love my job because I am able to see how strongly nutrition correlates with optimal performance.
I also have a passion for culinary nutrition. I couple my work at the Bulldogs with some part time consultancy work with Scoop Nutrition for restaurants, food service and food industries.
Teri Lichtenstein, Tech dietitian
I juggle two jobs – one as director of my own nutrition and digital marketing agency called FoodBytes and my other job as a mother! No two days are the same as my work is unbelievably varied, from presenting nutrition presentations to a wide variety of audiences, to helping dietitians conduct an audit of their social media channels, providing digital and social media training to dietitians and food brand teams, writing nutrition content for websites and so much more. My “office” is my laptop and a good wifi connection (with good coffee of course). I love the flexibility and the variety of my work, which helps to keep me motivated and it reminds me how much opportunity exists for dietitians to help companies and individuals raise their nutritional profiles.
Alice Downing, Community health and private practice dietitian
I work in community health and private practice in 7 clinics across Melbourne and Victoria. I work under the Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) program, which provides patients with access to allied health services through Medicare. I receive referrals for patients with a variety of conditions and chronic diseases including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, weight management, paediatric nutrition and food allergies. I provide nutrition assessments, education and assist patients in achieving long-term diet and lifestyle modification to support health. I see many patients throughout the day and spend time talking to doctors and allied health staff to promote dietetic services for patients.
Ash Jones, Industry dietitian
I work as a dietitian for Lite n’ Easy which is an Australian company that produces and delivers great tasting, healthy meals. My job involves building the national menu, and working as part of the product development team. I love my job because I am able to promote healthy food on a large scale, and actively change the way Australians eat. And it doesn’t hurt that sampling the product is part of my job description!
Jane Kellett, Academic and research dietitian
I am a lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Canberra, where I have been the course convener of the Master of Nutrition and Dietetics course since 2005. I love teaching students and sharing my knowledge and experience. My research interests include malnutrition, aged care, clinical dietetics and work-integrated learning. I am currently enrolled in a PhD investigating malnutrition in the elderly.
Emma Stubbs, Rural dietitian
I work for a rural health service in Western Victoria. My job typically involves helping patients meet their individual nutrition requirements, cardiac rehabilitation group education programs and the odd supermarket tour to inform people on healthy choices. I also visit local nursing homes and assist residents in optimising their nutrition status and preventing unintentional weight loss/muscle loss.
We also have a large number of patients coming through our health service for bariatric surgery so I am involved in assisting patients in both their pre-op and post-op nutrition journey.
Emma Stirling, “Slashie” dietitian
I work as a slashie these days after 20+ years as a dietitian. I’m a blogger/academic/business owner/writer/mentor and I love every minute of it.
Dietetics has given me such a diverse platform to grown my career that has taken me around the world and from fine dining restaurants to teaching cooking to the navy!
Denise Burbidge, Food Services dietitian
I am a clinical and food services dietitian, working within private practice and as part of a research team. I love the variety that my job brings. From helping someone better manage their diabetes to creating and testing recipes or formulating menus, no two days are ever the same. As a dietitian I bring my love of food and cooking together with the backing of nutrition science to help clients and organisations achieve their nutrition goals.
Being part of a research team also means that I’m contributing to the ongoing development of nutrition science.
Maree Ferguson, Company director
I am a dietitian who decided to start my own business called Dietitian Connection. The vision for Dietitian Connection is to inspire and empower dietitians to realise their dreams. We do this by being the one stop shop for busy nutrition professionals for nutrition, leadership and business resources, exciting job opportunities, upcoming podcasts, webinars and events, new products, latest news and research, and more. I especially love working with students and new graduates and seeing them flourish and having the confidence to dream big.
Then of course there is me!
Jenna Obeid, Clinical dietitian
I work as a clinical dietitian in a Melbourne based hospital. I work with patients who require certain foods or nutrients to meet specific requirements while overcoming illness. I also see patients who are unable to physically eat, so I initiate tube feeding and determine what route of feeding and formula type is most appropriate for that patient. In my job I use science and high quality research to guide my practice. I find my work challenging but rewarding as I am an important part of the multidisciplinary hospital team that provides care to patients.
So there you have it. We all walk out of university with the same degree to our name, classified as specialists in nutrition, clinical dietetics, food service management, and community and public health. But what one person does with their degree is so different to the next person. And over time, many dietitians move and evolve into different areas of nutrition and dietetics.
That is the true beauty of our profession.
Happy Dietitians Day to all the dietitians out there!