The role of a dietician, by Ellen Dixon, Gastroenterology and Surgical Dietitian

A series of blog posts to give you more information about the role of a dietician in Gateshead.

What is your role as a Dietitian at Gateshead?

I am currently working as a Gastroenterology and Surgical Dietitian at Gateshead. My role involves assessing and implementing dietetic plans to improve the nutritional status of patients with gastroenterology conditions including Crohn’s Disease, Liver Disease and Pancreatitis, as well as supporting to improve patients nutritional status both prior and post-surgery.

What impact do you have on patient care?

As a dietitian I have a huge impact on patient care. I liaise with both patients and the MDT to identify a suitable dietetic plan to improve nutritional status taking into account patients individual dietary preferences and clinical factors.

What does a normal day look like for you as a dietitian?

A typical day involves me attending the acute surgical and gastroenterology wards to assess and review patients. I consider the patients individual condition and current nutritional intake to develop an appropriate dietetic plan including oral nutrition support, enteral nutrition and parenteral nutrition.

Do you work within the community or are you hospital based?

I am primarily based in the hospital although I also see outpatients in clinic to provide dietetic support to patients in the local community. This includes providing patient-centered dietary advice to individuals with IBS, including a Low FODMAP diet, gastrointestinal conditions, and Crohns Disease.

How did you become a dietitian?

I have always had an interest in nutrition from a young age and completed a BSc in Human Nutrition. From this I began to learn the role nutrition had in specific clinical conditions and went on to apply for a Masters in Dietetics. I completed my MSc in Dietetics at Teesside University and then joined the dietetics team at Gateshead as a rotational dietitian. I loved the diverse area of gastroenterology and took the opportunity to take on my current role earlier this year.

How do people get referred for nutritional help/access the service?

Patients can be referred to the dietetics team as both an inpatient or outpatient by nurses, doctors, GP’s, allied health professionals and community team members. Patients will then be individually assessed by a qualified dietitian and appropriate, evidence-based advice given.