Jackie Freeman, a Senior Dietitian within our Diabetes and Nutrition Services (DANS) team, tells us what an average day is like working in the community.
In my 20 of years working as a dietitian, half of it in has been in the Bristol area and has usually included diabetes. I enjoy the community environment as the people I meet are dealing with their daily life’s challenges as well as trying to manage their health condition as best they can. I often have to think quite creatively and tailor my approach and communication methods for each individual patient, to help them put the evidence-based nutritional information into practice.
I’m up early to get children ready for school and tackle the Bristol traffic en route to the clinic. I check emails at the start of the day to prioritise anything I need to fit in that week, go through referrals to the service to make sure they are appropriate and see who is attending the clinic. Many of my clinics are in the inner city so I have a higher proportion of patients with different cultures, languages and backgrounds. This means I have to consider their belief systems, eating habits and cooking skills in my advice, often with the help of a translator or Health Link worker.
In between patients this morning, I review a patient’s food diary and answer an email query from a practice nurse. Before lunch with my DANS colleagues, I catch up with another Dietitian to review one of our many teaching sessions to Bristol Community Health nursing staff to ensure that it has included the most up to date nutrition and dietetic evidence.
The afternoon is spent teaching on our carbohydrate counting course for people with type 1 diabetes. This practical session helps patients understand the factors that affect their diabetes control and how to measure the carbohydrates in their food and calculate how much insulin they need. Seeing the confidence it gives people to manage their diabetes makes this session one of my favourites.
The end of the day involves a quick discussion with a Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) about how best to manage a patient’s diabetes control – we consider not just the insulin he is taking but also his work/home patterns, activity levels and alcohol intake. Together we work out a plan to discuss with the patient at his appointment tomorrow.
I try and leave on time ready to start my next job – feeding the family, taking my girls to their taekwondo training or helping with homework!