By Dur-e-nayab Burki

As the name Solanum Lycopersicum is not commonly said, neither is mine.

Hello everyone, my name is Dur-e-nayab Burki and like the word mentioned before, not everyone calls me by it, instead, they call me Nayab or Nabi for short as it is easy, the same way we call Solanum Lycopersicum a tomato. Simple really!

I am currently a community service dietitian, working at Witbank Provincial Hospital, which is located in Mpumalanga. It’s an hour from home, but still a little distant. To be honest, I never saw myself becoming a dietitian, All I knew after graduating from matric was I wanted to study in Varsity and the fact that my Dad is a doctor, I leaned more towards health sciences.

I applied for BSc Dietetics at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), previously known as MEDUNSA. In my 4th year of studying, I did my internship for Therapeutic nutrition in Dr George Mukhari Hospital, as well as my Foodservice training, where I learned more theoretically. Later, I was transferred to Jubilee Hospital, where I learned more practically. I did my Community block in Phedisong, a clinic in Ga-Rankuwa.

Yes, it was overwhelming, but asking for help when needing it was the step needed to overcome the fear of the unknown and extremely emotional rollercoaster ride. But in the end, when I look back – with all the support from my classmates, supervisors, lecturers, friends and family, I said ‘that was worth it!’ and ‘I made it!’- the most satisfying feeling ever.

My Community service year has thought me that you are in control of what you decide to do with this year. Yes, new experiences are part of It, but working alongside other medical professions, such as OT’s, SLT’s, PT’s, Nurses and other medical staff actually showed me how important my role as a dietitian is. What’s even more important is educating them about my role as a dietitian for a patient. To give a patient the correct NF feed is Crucial in their treatment, however to others, any feed is fine!

I’ve also learned from a nurse, when working in neo-natal ICU, about how to do continuous feeds of EBM, when resources are limited, to use an IV bag – interesting right?

One major thing I’m excited to report is the amount of emphasis I have put on referring patients with any nutritionally affected conditions, to the doctors I know, my dad and sister. And I have seen changes to their mindset when working with patients because they always ask ‘ hey Nabi do we refer patients with renal dysfunction & HPT with low appetite to Dietitians?’ and I reply ‘ Yes. Please!’. Changing one doctor’s perspective at a time is a small step to making a big change.

Also use the opportunity to ask your colleagues as well – learn from their experiences, because by the time you start enjoying this year with all you learn, it has already gone by. (To Esme and Loren – thank you for this year).


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