BDA Ibex recipient: Bruno Mafrici

02 Aug 2023

Bruno Mafrici is a renal dietitian who has held the Renal Nutrition Specialist Group Chair role for the last five years, as well as being one of the authors and editors of the Pocket Guide to Clinic Nutrition, within the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Specialist Group (PENG). Bruno received an Ibex in 2023.

We asked him about his work and what this honour means to him.

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What does it mean to you to receive the Ibex honour?

I feel very privileged and honoured to have been awarded the Ibex Honour. I really want to thank all the committee members of the Renal Nutrition Specialist Group (RNG) and PENG for their nominations - and anybody that contributed as well.  

The Ibex Honour is one of the highest accolades the BDA can award a dietitian. It’s given to someone that has made a significant contribution to the profession as a whole over the last five years. As a result, I feel very privileged that the BDA recognises the hard work that I have put into RNG and PENG.

Receiving a national award like this is incredible and I must acknowledge the teams I have worked with (both within the RNG and PENG) as they have worked so hard and efficiently. I also need to thank my renal dietetic team at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. Having such a supportive and hard-working team in the background makes life at work (and outside work) so much easier, allowing me to focus my free time on volunteering for the BDA and achieving so much at a national level.

Especially I would like to thank Sarah Sidani, Natalie Wilcox, Victoria Armstrong Brown, Ravinder Sagoo, Vigil Moyo, Meghan Borg and Oscar Walton.

What drove you to become a dietitian in the first place and be where you are today?

I originally trained as a chef (and I was/am a rather good one!) in one of the top chef schools in northern Italy. So, I have always been interested in food. After a few years practising as a chef I decided to go back to university and dietetics was a perfect match. I trained in Pavia, a small town 40 minutes away from Milan and after I graduated I came to the UK where I’ve worked as a dietitian since 2005.

I am currently working as a clinical specialist renal dietitian, and non-medical prescriber at an advanced practice level, where I look after people on renal replacement therapy, in the renal wards and in outpatient clinics. I am developing my non-medical prescribing role with people with Chronic Kidney Disease with Mineral Bone Disease (CKD-MBD). I am also an experienced lecturer in clinical nutrition and dietetics at several UK universities (University of Nottingham, Birmingham City University, University of Chester and Glasgow Caledonian University to mention a few).

I’m also interested in advancing and developing current dietetic practices, by doing things differently and changing the status quo. As an example, I recently secured funding to deliver a weight loss service specifically tailored to patients who are medically fit for a kidney transplant but who cannot join the waiting list because of their elevated Body Mass Index. I applied for funding for a multi-professional clinic including a dietitian, physiotherapist and clinical psychologist, which was successful.

Finally, I am currently completing the ePortfolio for advanced clinical practice, run by Health Education England. I have recently secured funding for a part-time PhD, where I will be re-exploring nitrogen balance in people on maintenance dialysis, alongside my current prescribing role.

Who inspires you?

Where do I start? Over the past 20 years, I’ve met a lot of people that inspire me. Some of the most inspirational people that I’ve had during my career have been Ann Mickelwright, Vera Todorovick, Elizabeth Roper, Frances McCorriston, Denise Dodd, Dr Jacklyn Jones, Carole-Anne Fleming, Ailsa Kennedy and Dr Alison Culkin. I have had the pleasure of working directly with them. Ann and Vera did so much to advance the role of nutritional support and contributed so much towards the BDA. I can confidently say that I learned from the very best! They took me under their wings and I learned a lot from them.

Elizabeth and Denise were my first proper mentors when I started my career in dietetics back in 2005 and as an international dietitian starting a new role in the UK they supported me a lot (Liz has continued to do so!) 

Frances was my renal dietetic role model and team leader. I would not be here today without Frances, as she has such a drive for renal dietetics and is a pleasure to work with. 

Finally, many of the renal consultants I have worked with (such as Dr Charlotte Bebb, Dr Catherine Byrne, Dr Simon Roe, Dr Alastair Ferraro, Dr Mark Jesky, Dr Linda Bisset, Dr Matt Hall and Dr Mark Devonald) and other consultants (such as Dr Peter Prinsloo and Dr Kathy Teahon) inspire me a lot and I have learned so much from them.

What advice would you give to future dietitians? 

One piece of advice that I would give to a future dietitian is to join one of the specialist groups at the BDA. I know nowadays nobody has free time and some people may perceive volunteering as impossible. However, please do not underestimate what this time could give you back. As the previous Chair of the RNG I liaised with national figures within the UK Kidney Association and created a lot of links nationally, collaborating on several projects and creating new opportunities where we managed to ‘infiltrate’ dietitians into many projects and guidelines, raising our profile nationally.

On a personal level, I met my current PhD supervisor professors during my time as the Chair. This would have never happened if I didn’t decide to volunteer my time within the BDA.

Another example is volunteering with PENG. I started as an ordinary member and after a few months, I was approached and asked if I would be interested in supporting the editing of the Pocket Guide to Clinical Nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of work, but it changed me completely as a practitioner. My level of knowledge has reached very high levels, and my ability to critically appraise the evidence-base, related to nutritional support, has reached a new level and I have to thank PENG and the BDA for this opportunity.

So, my advice to future dietitians is to spend time as a volunteer for any specialist group, and, in contradiction to many of the leading social streams, say “yes” to any opportunities that fly your way! What have you got to lose?

What has been the highlight of your dietetic career to date?

Becoming an author and editor of the Pocket Guide to Clinical Nutrition has definitely been one of the highlights of my career. I’m also proud of leading on a national guideline on the workforce for adult renal dietitians and supporting departments in the UK obtaining safe staffing levels.

There are many other personal and academic achievements - my scientific peer publications, teaching at several UK universities, tutoring at the PENG clinical update, writing articles for Dietetics Today and CN magazine, setting up Kidney Nutrition Matters LLP with Ravinder Sagoo.

However my biggest achievement continues to be making a difference to people affected by kidney disease. This never stops feeding my passion for renal dietetics, alongside developing the future generation of dietitians (from students to younger colleagues).

I strongly believe it is vital that we pass our knowledge and skills on to the next generation so they can drive the profession forward even further.

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