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Natalie Brooks

Dietitian at Fiona Stanley Hospital

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) in 2011 and Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics in 2012. It took me a little extra time to complete my degree, but I am glad I persevered and found something I love doing. I went straight from school in to studying a Bachelor of Classical Music Performance. After 12 months and deciding the performing arts industry wasn’t for me, I decided I wanted to work in health and in a job with lots of patient interaction. This, paired with my love for food sparked my interest in studying nutrition. I started in the Health Promotion/Nutrition double degree and then transferred to the Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) as I wanted the option to complete a postgraduate degree in Dietetics. I didn’t do TEE Chemistry so was required to complete a bridging chemistry unit and the first two years of my degree part time, but this worked well as it allowed me to find part time employment.

Curtin was an easy choice for me, primarily due to its reputation in offering industry relevant, practical courses and providing graduates with skills to demonstrate a competitive edge to potential employers.

The facilities were excellent, ranging from a wide variety of lecture and tutorial rooms to chemistry, food, exercise and anatomy laboratories. I could not have asked for more support from the Curtin staff, both throughout my degree and moving in to the workforce. My lecturers have inspired me to continually expand my knowledge and use of critical thinking.

I have worked in quite a few different roles prior to commencing my current role as a Clinical Dietitian at Fiona Stanley Hospital in February 2015.
When I finished my degree at the end of 2012, I decided that I wanted to focus on developing my skills in Clinical Dietetics. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan as despite all of my efforts in job searching, developing my resume and getting my name out there, clinical jobs were extremely limited after I graduated. For the first 3 months, I worked as a Research Assistant and tutor at Curtin University and Program Support Officer at Diabetes WA. The skills I developed in these roles, such as literature searching, writing for publication and group education, have been valuable and transferable to my current role.

My first clinical Dietetic job was a short-term locum position at St John of God Hospital in Murdoch. As a new graduate, I found it very challenging, as I was often the only Dietitian in the hospital. After a month, I was successful in securing another locum position at Fremantle Hospital. Working in a large Dietetic department was fantastic in terms of the huge amount of support and learning opportunities available. Over my 18 months at Fremantle, I was fortunate enough to experience working in most areas within the hospital.

When positions at Fiona Stanley Hospital were advertised, I was drawn to the exciting potential of working in a brand new tertiary quaternary hospital and developing Dietetic services. I am really enjoying my current role as all of the entry-level Dietitians rotate in to a new specialty area every 6 months. I commenced on the Coronary Care Unit and Renal ward, and have recently moved in to Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedics. A typical day in my current job can involve anything from implementing strategies to optimise patient’s food and fluid intake, developing and monitoring enteral feeding regimens, assisting in management of complex symptoms impacting on food intake after gastrointestinal surgery, coordinating patient care with a range of other health professionals and developing Dietetic services and resources.

My advice would be to take something away from every experience, whether it is something you planned to do or not! I am excited to continue my career in Dietetics as it is always challenging and has so many different directions I can pursue in the future – never a dull moment!