I qualified as a dietitian in 1998, and still gain a huge amount of enjoyment from the work I do with both people and organizations to improve knowledge and skills around nutrition. Prior to my qualifying as a dietitian I took a scenic route to my post-graduate diploma in dietetics – working in the dairy industry and with a commercial baker. I also tutored first year food science at University of Otago.
Although I have done some work in hospitals I recognized early in my career I was interested in working with primary care. Primary care is the element of healthcare centered around GP care, but including all healthcare that happens where people live rather than associated with hospitals. I also figured out I was really interested in making the experience of healthcare better for people. So I started to get involved in training other health professionals
When training health professionals I ended up identifying some key issues that were making it harder for people to work with health professionals. First of all there was a real culture of blame associated with many chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. From realizing this I became interested in the issues of weight bias and discrimination and started speaking out about the negative impact these assumptions about weight were having on people’s health. Second I realized that there was a lack of understanding about how much education and information people have on health related topics, and asa result health professionals often make a hash of explaining health topics. This developed my interest in health literacy
I am of the generation that saw the advent of computers into every day life (I remember seeing the IBM computer at Christchurch clinical school in about 1978) and I consider myself to be a fluent non-native speaker of internet. This has given me opportunities to develop online and virtual services for my patients. This is the main focus of my business plan moving forward – so watch this space!