Ten ways to be a better dietitian

Last modified on 22/02/2019

During the 2018 Elsie Widdowson Memorial Lecture, Professor Kevin Whelan of King's College London, presented on 'modifying the microbiome in gut health and disease: research as the foundation of dietetic practice'. Towards the end of his fascinating lecture (which you can view in full here) he discussed his top ten tips for dietitians.

Our Events Officer, Charlotte Whitehouse jotted them down to share with you.

Ten Top Tips

1. Be fascinated by nutrition

No matter what level you are we must be fascinated by nutrition. Choose what you’re interested in, read about it, learn about it, talk to other people about it, become an expert in it and show leadership in that area. That will be transformational for our profession.

2. Just because something works in health doesn’t mean it will in disease

3. Have fire in your belly, be a role model  

Have fire and passion to make change and be a role model. Who were your role models and who inspired you? Who are you a role model to? Who do you inspire?

We all need to be an inspiration to other people. Students/band 5 can inspire people. Through charity work, advocacy and great clinical, and research, work you do.

Everyone at every stage of their career should be working out how they can be role models to other people. Role models are so important, they have changed the course of my career.

4. Research can impact UK Policy!

The research we have done has impacted on NICE guidelines and quality standards. Research can drive forward innovations in care and change policy and practice throughout the UK.

5. Innovation has always been the future

We need to be innovating – we need to embrace technology. Personalised nutrition is the key to effectiveness
 
7. Be a leader, whoever you are and wherever you work

Student dietitians, Band 5s, Dietetic support assistants, Head of a dietetic services or Professor of dietetics - we all need to be giving the same level of leadership. We need to show doctors and nurses how brilliant dietitians are so we can then change the world.
 
8. The NHS has challenges – but dietitians can lead it into the future!

What would Elsie Widdowson have done? We need to look towards the future.

Each and every one of us, 9,000 BDA members, need to be making this change. The best way to predict the future is to create it.

There is never going to be overfunding in the NHS, so we need to start to understand how we can be as brilliant, as effective and inspirational as we possibly can with the restricted funds that we’ve got.

We need to read, we need to lead in innovating that change and we need to get on with it.

We need to proceed and stop waiting for permission from everybody before we can actually do something. 

9. Diversity, in all forms, is essential

Diversity in terms of age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic background and socio-economic background.

I am really concerned about the removal of funding for dietetic education. I want dietitians to reflect the patients we serve. I think that is why we need all these people working in our profession (and a few more men please...)

10. Nobody achieves anything alone  

Research is expensive. There are 12 different people in my research team, the majority are dietitians - with their PhDs, or working towards their PhDs, they are going on to be leaders and this is what we need more of.

Change takes time but we need to do it.

 

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