career profile | dietitian

I find this role and line of work to be super interesting, it is a area that I am always eager to hear more about and an area I wish I did when looking at the big fat Uni book deciding my future. Emma oozes knowledge and I don’t think there is anything wrong with me saying that this is the definition of hard work, passion and knowing your ultimate goal.

With a passion for health, food and wellbeing – Emma is a Dietitian, specialising in the nutritional care of infants, children and adolescents. Emma has a wealth of knowledge and dedication for working with families to achieve happier, healthier lives and most importantly enjoyable mealtimes, Emma peels back the curtains to share her career journey demonstrating that dedication and drive will see you achieve your dreams and goals.

Emma Landorf, Dietitian

Brief description of your role:
I am a paediatric Dietitian working in a large paediatric hospital where I see infants, children and adolescents who need specialist dietary advice. My main specialist areas are food allergies and intolerances, gastrointestinal conditions, enteral feeding (children requiring feeding tubes for their nutrition) and children with feeding disorders (children with feeding aversion and extreme fussy eating). My job also involves ‘non-clinical’ roles such as developing resources and coordinating the paediatric nutrition component of the dietetic university courses in our state. Teaching is an area I am passionate about and I’m fortunate enough to be able to have this embedded in my role through lecturing to university students and supervising students on their clinical placements.

I also work for a private multi-disciplinary clinic which specializes in paediatric feeding difficulties. In this role I am part of a team of professionals who help infants and children with feeding difficulties ranging from fussy eating to children dependent on tubes for nutrition.

So… what do you actually do?
Everyday is so different – that’s what I love about my job! I will use a typical Monday as an example:

6am – woken up by my toddler… not the time I would choose to get up!!! 6-6:45am get my son dressed / fed and out the door to childcare (taken by dad) and I throw on some gym clothes 645am – off to the gym – I’m lucky enough to have a gym on site at my work so its easy to get in a workout before I start work. 9am: arrive at work, have my second coffee for the day and breakfast while I check emails and plan my day. 9:30am – 1230pm – Allergy clinic. In this clinic I see infants and children who have been diagnosed with food allergies (for example cow’s milk, egg, nut, wheat). I work with the families teaching them how to avoid the foods they are allergic to while helping them to achieve a nutritionally adequate diet. 1230 – lunch break 1-2pm – See any inpatients I have been referred (patients admitted to the hospital needing nutritional advice for example children with renal conditions, gastrointestinal conditions and children who are fed through feeding tubes). 3pm – in the car off to one of the 2 universities in the state that have a Nutrition and Dietetics course. At the university I will either give a lecture (e.g. last week’s lecture was on assessing growth in children) or run a practical tutorial. 5pm – finish and go to pick my son up from childcare.

This is just an example of one of my days of work but the great thing about my job is that no day is ever the same. Other days of the week I will spend more time seeing inpatients and less time teaching / seeing outpatients.

How did you get to your position of being a Dietitian?
When I left school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – it’s so hard at that age to decide! At the last minute I applied for Bachelor of Psychology and completed the first year before taking a year off to experience life interstate. While living interstate I worked in a variety of retail and administrative roles and finally worked out that my love of food and science would be perfectly matched by becoming a Dietitian. Unfortunately I missed out on getting into the course by 0.5 of a mark (!!) so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree at the same university that was offering the nutrition course and after 2 years of really hard work I was able to transfer into the Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics course at year 3 – gaining credit for the 2 years of study I had done in the Bachelor of Health Sciences. I finished up with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours) degree and along the way had developed a passion for paediatric nutrition. The month after I finished my degree I applied for a 3 month base grade contract at the paediatric hospital I now work at and was fortunate enough to win the role. That short contract was extended multiple times over 4 years and in 2010 I won my current position – Senior Dietitian and have been in it ever since.

Have you always wanted to work in the health industry?
Yes. I really love working in the health industry – there is something really satisfying about working for an organization that strives to improve people’s lives.

In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
In 2011 I developed statewide Dietetic guidelines for the management of feeding disorders in children under 3 years. I presented these at an education day for Dietitians and have had a huge amount of positive feedback on them. It’s satisfying to know something I worked so hard on is appreciated and used by many Dietitians in the state.

Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
I really love being able to help children with feeding difficulties. Seeing results from the advice I have provided and seeing the relief on parents’ faces when their child’s eating improves is priceless and incredibly rewarding.

What would be the least favourite aspect of your role?
It can be emotionally difficult to see such seriously ill children everyday. You begin to think that it’s normal because you are surrounded by it everyday and forget that most children are perfectly well.

Any advice for anyone aspiring to be a Dietitian?
If you’re passionate about food and love science (particularly physiology and biochemistry) then dietetics could be the career for you. There are so many different areas that Dietitians work in – for example clinical (working in a hospital), community (working with communities to improve their general health), private practice, food service, industry (for example with food companies developing products), research and teaching. If you are interested in becoming a Dietitian I would highly recommend contacting a Dietitian in your area to talk to them about their job and observe them for a day – people are often surprised that we don’t just see clients wanting to loose weight! For more information on how to become a Dietitian visit the Dietitians Association of Australia (www.daa.asn.au).

Thank you Emma for offering great advice and introducing us into the world of a Dietitian – if you have any questions for Emma or the health industry, please join the conversation below.

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