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Paul O’Neill

Dietitian, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Like a lot of young people I didn’t really know exactly what career path to follow. So I didn’t apply for university until later in my life. Most of my life I worked as a chef as I do have a passion for food and the pleasure that it provides to people.   I was always interested in nutrition, health and science so the Curtin Nutrition course was attractive to me. I was a mature age student when I enrolled at Curtin to study Nutrition and Food Science; not really knowing where it would take me. As I progressed through the first year of the course I became increasingly interested and excited about the science of nutrition and health. I graduated in 2007 with a Post Grad Diploma in Dietetics with a lot of confidence in what I had achieved through this degree.

Curtin University had an established course in nutrition, with options for various related careers after I graduated. It was the University that trained Nutritionists and Dietitians so it was an easy choice to make. Studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Curtin University was one of the great privileges of my life. The staff had industry related experience which helped make the science of nutrition relevant to life’s situations. I felt like the course provided cutting edge and evidence based science that I could apply to an individual’s health. The degree that I studied was challenging but incredibly rewarding.

Shortly after I graduated in 2007 I started work as a dietitian at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. ‘Charlie’s’ is an acute tertiary teaching hospital in Perth WA. I work as part of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals including medical specialties like oncology and respiratory, also allied health and nursing. I especially enjoy the team aspect of health and how my health discipline is respected within the context of the patient’s health.

The main part of my role is to provide ‘Nutrition support’ to critically ill patients to prevent and treat malnutrition.  This involves assessing their nutrition status, selecting an appropriate diet, providing nourishing food or supplements, as well as ‘invasive nutrition’ like tube feeding when necessary to save people’s lives.

I provide recommendations for the medical team and nursing and education to the patient regarding the role of nutrition, health and the disease process. It is incredibly rewarding contributing to people’s health and quality of life.

My degree has opened doors that have enabled me to travel and study. In 2011 I travelled on a scholarship to the USA where I studied at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore Maryland. I have also attended and presented at a Cystic Fibrosis conference in New Zealand as well as having many opportunities to travel interstate to study and enhance my dietetic skills. I am continually challenged and enlarged by the opportunities to learn and develop my career.

Being a Dietitian is my dream job.

Paul O’Neill