Meet the Dietitian: Community Service Series

By Santi Turner

Hello, my name is Santi Turner and I’m currently 1 year post-comserve 

I’ve always had a big passion and interest in health, food and people. Dietetics is a combination of all 3 of these elements and that’s why I chose it!

My aunt is a dietitian in Namibia and she definitely sparked my interest in this field. I’m so glad that I chose to study dietetics and I can’t see myself in any other job.

I studied at the University of Stellenbosch on Tygerberg campus and graduated at the end of 2019 after 4 hard-working years. I was blessed with the most incredible friends that helped me get through the course! I might be biased, but I believe that we had the best lectures and got the best practical experience on Tygerberg Campus!

I completed my community service year at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. It’s a tertiary hospital and we rotated wards every 2 months. I had the best year and made a lot of new friends! My biggest advice to final years would be to choose a tertiary hospital if you want the most clinical/practical experience. Some of my friends in rural clinics never worked with parenteral or enteral feeds, but they still had great health promotion opportunities. 

I currently work for a private practice in Nelspruit and I see out-patients at our practice as well as in-patients at two private hospitals in the area. Private is a lot different than government in terms of the environment that you work in, but you still get very good practical experience! The private sector was a big adjustment for me as I wasn’t the only dietitian in a hospital ward anymore. All of a sudden I was being surrounded by several other dietitians.

What I love most about my job is seeing the progress that my patients make. It could be someone progressing from a tube feed to oral feeding or a pt coming in for a weight-loss consultation and gradually shedding off the weight to reach her end goal!

My biggest advice to future dietitians would be to work hard and be like a sponge. Embrace all the new learning curves that come your way! Absorb new information and learn from the mistakes that other health professionals make. Be the best version of yourself!

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