Kylie, Sports Dietitian
If you've got a scientific mind and enjoy dealing with people, a career in dietetics can enable you to balance the two interests.
How did you become a dietitian?
Kylie Andrew, a sports dietitian, started off doing a science degree. She extended her study when she decided that lab work wasn't for her, and that she'd really like to be working with people. Kylie has been working as a dietitian for almost seven years and thoroughly enjoys her work, commenting, "It's even better than I thought it would be."
Currently in private practice, she works through both the McKinnon and Albert Park Sports Medicine Centres, and notes that the work can be very challenging. "As a consultant, how you market yourself is very important, and sometimes the hours can be long. However, the clients I see tend to be highly motivated and willing to change, which in some ways, makes my job easier. In addition, the work is generally varied and rewarding."
What does your job involve?
Kylie's role as a dietitian involves assessment, education and counselling. She works with a diverse group of clients, ranging from light-weight rowers who must maintain a set body weight for their sport, through to individuals with high blood pressure, eating disorders or allergies.
Her weekly duties could involve anything from organising menus for travelling athletes, to measuring a client's weight and body fat levels, through to conducting talks at schools.
"It's great being able to make a difference. Seeing the athletes you've worked with perform well, or helping a client to lose weight is extremely rewarding," says Kylie.
What career opportunities are there?
While Kylie was lucky in that she was able to start working in her chosen area as a sports dietitian straight away, dietitians can work in a number of other areas. These include working in community health centres (where the focus is more on prevention than on treatment); with food companies, developing and marketing certain products; or in hospital settings, where the focus is more clinical.
Addressing the misconceptions sometimes held about her profession, Kylie says that while a lot of people associate dietetics with 'deprivation', it's more about what to eat than what not to eat.
Any tips for new players?
She emphasises that it's important to have a good understanding of the profession before going into it, and advises those contemplating a career in dietetics to do their research, by doing the appropriate reading or by visiting a dietitian themselves.
Finally, does having all that knowledge about food and nutrients influence your own eating habits? Well, Kylie responds, "Once you have the knowledge, you can apply it all the time, but it's all about achieving a balance really."
Find out more about a career as a dietitian
Visit the myfuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a dietitian.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).