Wendy Nesbitt - Community Health Promotion Dietitian

Wendy is a Community Health Promotion Dietitian, and has been working for HSC for over 25 years. Wendy has been talking about her role.

Can you tell us how about your job and what you do from day to day?
I work as a Community Health Promotion Dietitian. A large proportion of my time is spent developing, organising and delivering training courses to enable others to deliver practical nutrition messages to a variety of community groups. I also support tutors we have trained, deliver sessions to community groups, develop nutrition resources and leaflets both regionally and within the Trust. My work allows me to work with all sectors of the community and therefore is constantly changing and challenging.

How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve been a Community Dietitian since 1990 – so that’s an ancient 26 years. working first in Belfast Trust and since 2011 in South Eastern Trust.

What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?
I qualified in the 1980’s from what was then Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh with a BSc in Dietetics and when I started to work in the community completed the City and Guilds Further and Adult Teaching Certificate. Dietetic training lasts four years and includes a considerable amount of practical experience. I am also registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). All Dietitians working within the Health Service must be registered. However the most practical training I have had is my own life experiences as this has developed and honed my practice over the years. My practice changed when I left home, got married and had a family as I found that the nutrition theory has to accommodate all the pitfalls of life that we all have to contend with.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?
One of the biggest challenges is making the messages relevant and practical to the public and dealing with the constantly skewed messages that pop up in the media and seem to confuse people.

What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?
You need an interest in people and an ability to tailor advice- be it clinical or health promotion to meet their specific needs. Being well organised, flexible and able to manage your time and a variety of different tasks is essential.

What do you like best about your role and working in HSC?
I enjoy the education and training aspect, training tutors to deliver nutrition advice to community groups and helping them understand the healthy eating messages and being able to then inform their own groups.