MEET THE DIETITIAN: COMMUNITY SERVICE SERIES

ONCE A FUSSY EATER, NOW A REGISTERED DIETITIAN

By Jessica Botes

 

I was unsure of what I wanted to study but one thing I did know was that I wanted to help people on a daily basis – yes, I know its cliché.

So when the time came to apply for university I chose anything and everything – audiology, physiotherapy, emergency care practitioner, etc.

On a whim I applied to study Dietetics at the North-West University in Potchefstroom after chatting with a friend of the family who is a dietitian and has spent her career in the therapeutic and research fields. I was fascinated. We spoke about ongoing studies involving genetics and nutrition, the integral part nutrition plays in healing a sick body, the role dietitians play in a hospital setting and much more. This awakened a new interest in me and so my journey began.

We got the email that I was accepted- as if it were fate.

Ironically to everyone’s surprise I was now going to be a Dietitian even though throughout my life I have been the fussiest eater ever! I lived off Pronutro/Cornflakes and my scope of vegetables were carrots (only raw) and mealies. I can now proudly say I am in love with all foods and the way they benefit our bodies.

 

Fast forward to 2020, I am doing my community service at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital. Every day I get to encounter so many new and interesting patients in the wards as well as educate outpatients in our clinic, who are faced with extreme socioeconomic circumstances.

 

Although I’ve been taught to use the ideal products specific for our patients, in government settings you will be challenged by limited resources. Another difficulty is communication, whether it be with patients or staff. This includes language barriers and ensuring my prescriptions/recommendations are followed. Yet these challenges all mounts up to experience and can only enrich me for the better!

 

I love interacting with patients, getting to know them, being that person who shows a little extra care that they may need and always trying to put a smile on their face. This has been especially important during lockdown as all my patients do not have their loved ones visiting – I can’t even imagine being unwell and isolated.

Their progress and healing is so rewarding to witness. Whilst working in the burns and surgery unit, the amazing transformations I experienced there will forever remain with me. My patients have taught me how a positive attitude in dark times can always get you through.

 

Walking into community service, remember:

  • Each day that you get up for work, go in with a positive mind set. You may be tired, you might be struggling to adjust but being negative will hinder your learning experience.
  • Never be afraid to ask. You are still learning and are not expected to know everything.
  • Ask to do extra work, ask to help fellow colleagues, every opportunity that presents to learn – grab it.
  • Don’t be afraid of fellow healthcare professionals. You are an expert in your field. Be confident in your knowledge.
  • Go on ward rounds and interact with your allied health professionals.
  • What you see in the hospital can be emotionally exhausting- lean on your fellow colleagues for comfort, they see what you do every day too.
  • AND ENJOY!

 

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