We spoke to Registered Dietitian, Robyn Duarte, working in the interesting field of Molecular Diagnostic Services (MDS).
Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?
I’ve always had an interest in food; the effect different nutrition has on our bodies and the psychology behind eating. In school there were many girls with eating disorders and helping individuals with these disorders was the avenue down which I wanted to go after my studies. This changed however as different opportunities presented themselves.
Where did you study (degree and/ or postgrad)
I studied my BSC Degree and PG Diploma in Dietetics at the UKZN in Pietermaritzburg, completing my community service at Appelsbosch hospital in 2010.
Where do you work and what does your job entail?
I am a Wellness Consultant/Dietician/Marketing HOD at Molecular Diagnostic Services (MDS). MDS is a private specialist molecular (DNA) diagnostic laboratory focusing on genetic and veterinary diseases, DNA paternity, identity and wellness tests. I have worked at MDS for 8 years, within the WellPro Wellness division liaising with practitioners and clients interested in exploring various tests to try and identify possible causes of adverse symptoms experienced. I believe that personalised testing – knowing about your own genes and about the foods that you react to – help to optimize your well-being.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What are the most satisfying moments?
I am excited to be at the forefront of this rapidly developing field with the use of the most advanced technology used for testing. The most satisfying moments are when clients contact me, emotional and grateful that they have finally found symptom relief or improved health after many years of struggling with various adverse symptoms.
What has been your career highlight?
Being able to travel to Poland and Germany for international conferences as well as hosting our very own in Cape Town and being able to share experiences with, and learn from, intelligent, like minded individuals who offer similar tests in their countries.
What are the most challenging aspects of your career?
Science and technology is continuously improving. What I do now is completely different from the content included in our standard dietetics degree. Thus many aspects of the job require research in order to try to stay abreast of this rapidly developing field. Sometimes, also, the technology can be ahead of the routine adoption of certain tests in current practice and we have to wait for more clinical trials to be conducted to make the findings more valuable to a practitioner.
What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?
“Oh, I never knew that dietitians drank wine/ate dessert!”
“What do you think about xxx diet?”
“I don’t like eating around you because I feel like you’re watching everything I put in my mouth”.