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My job explained: Dietitian

My job explained: DietitianSusan is a senior dietitian, currently involved in a research project.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

One of the things I enjoy most about being a dietitian is that every day you meet new people from different backgrounds with different stories to tell.

It’s also very rewarding when you give someone some advice and it works for them. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen because I work with some very ill people. But it’s great to see someone who had a problem and to know that you’ve helped. I also enjoy working as part of a team, not only with nurses and doctors, but also with other allied health professions.

What made you want to become a dietitian?

I knew from the age of 15 that I wanted to be a dietitian. My GCSE cookery course had a big theory component with a lot of nutrition and I found it really interesting. So, I spent my work experience in the dietetics departments of two local hospitals. I watched the dietitians at work and thought: "Yes, I’d like to do that".

What was your training like?

I did the four-year university honours degree in dietetics but many dietitians do a science degree in a subject like biochemistry first and then follow it up with postgraduate training.

My first job was a fairly typical general post, designed to develop your skills across a range of areas. It also gives you the chance to find out which specialist areas interest you most. I then moved on to a rotational post, working with patients with renal, liver or gastric conditions, and then worked in the community.

I am now spending a year on secondment to a university, doing research into malnutrition in older people with diabetes. This a pilot project and I’m doing it before starting work on an MSC.

What are you favourite parts of your job?

It’s very different from working as a clinical dietitian but really enjoyable. It’s been particularly interesting to see how to set up a research project. I spend a lot of time reading the latest research, but now I’ve been able to see all the work that has to go on before you start: there’s a lot more to it than I thought.

As a dietitian you have the opportunity to work in many different areas and with many different groups of patients. And it can be very flexible, too. Many of my colleagues have taken time off to have children and then come back on a part-time basis. You can build your career around the demands of home and child care.

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(Information taken from NHS Careers)