I’ll be honest. I had no clue what a dietitian fully did until I started my placements at University. I was just always interested in food and healthy eating. I did my GCSE final project in food tech on special diets. I remember baking these brown buns for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and a chicken and spinach dish, high in iron for a pregnancy diet. I think those buns would now bother an IBS patient being so high in fibre!! Things change.
My poor little brother chubbed out a bit at high school, mainly due to his affinity for large cinema size bags of sweets. I nagged and teased him relentlessly to eat better and I think this was definitely the start of my dietetic career! (He has since slimmed down with diet and lots of exercise!)
I did a biology degree at the University of York first and was completely taken with my metabolism and biochemistry modules (yes really). I still find it truly amazing the complicated cell signalling pathways that occur to process the nutrients and energy from our food. I was also amazed at how food and diet can really affect health; from contributing to chronic diseases, to affecting your sleep. By the third year, I was completing my dissertation on a more social project surrounding drinking in schools and applying for post-graduate dietetic courses.
I got a place at Leeds Metropolitan University and it was on my A and B placement that I saw what a dietitian really did. Nutrition support, enteral feeding and in a variety of specialities. I can still remember my first few times chatting to patients nervously and doing full clinic appointments on my own being supervised! Enteral feeding was definitely a challenge at first too! Luckily I liked what I saw and qualified in 2008.
My first job was in Birmingham and I went on to specialise in oncology, gastroenterology and critical care for a while. I then looked after an inherited metabolic disorders (IMD) patient during the summer of 2010 in critical care and was hooked. A temporary job came up at different Birmingham Trust and I went for it. It’s been 4 years, a steep learning curve and a permanent job later and I’m happily still working in IMD.