Hannah - Specialist Weight Management Dietitian
Hannah Bentley, East Cheshire NHS Trust
Why did I choose to become a dietitian? I was looking for a job that would bring variation, the ability to meet with lots of new people, work as part of a team and number one help people and feel I was making a positive difference to people’s lives. I had a love for food and nutrition, always enjoyed practical cooking and baking and was keen to keep healthy.
When my A-level Home Economics teacher suggested becoming a dietitian I hadn’t even heard of a dietitian but I very quickly after shadowing a dietitian and reading up on the British Dietetic Association thought it sounded a good fit for me.
My role is to support those patients living with obesity for 5 years or more referred by their GP wanting Bariatric surgery. The strict criteria of the specialist service must be met, and I work with patients to help them meet these so they can proceed with a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy operation to help them to loose weight.
Patients are often involved with service for 1 to 2 years, in which time I have regular contact with them helping to educate and support with diet and lifestyle changes. Alongside medical nutrition therapy the focus is on lifelong positive changes that ensure that a positive outcome is achieved if they have bariatric surgery.
I run mindful eating and satiety courses online and provide regular talks on bariatric surgery with surgeons on the team that all patients must attend. I also identify and refer patients to our psychology group sessions or for 1:1 psychology input.
I am part of a multi-disciplinary team who meet regularly to discuss each patient in the service and agree plans action.
I have been lucky that I have been a dietitian at East Cheshire NHS Trust for 18 years this summer! I started with a full-time acute role in 2004 straight after finishing my 4-year degree in Dietetics at Queen Margaret University College. I initially worked covering wards where I would have referrals from many patients requiring nutritional support.
I have also worked in Cardiac Rehabilitation providing specific advice following heart attacks, working with patients whilst they are admitted to a coronary care ward and then also going out to leisure centres to talk to groups about heart-healthy diets.
I discovered that I most enjoyed working in the community rather than on acute wards so I became a General Practice dietitian providing dietary advice to patients on a variety of areas from weight management, diabetes, and food allergies to nutritional support. It was helping support educate and motivate patients to make life long dietary changes that would make a real difference to their lives that I enjoyed and so I specialised in weight management.
12 years on I still work in weight management. I enjoy managing a case load of over 100 patients providing weight management support as well as working to continually improve the quality of the service. I work as an autonomous practitioner moving the recent pharmacological weight management service forward while delivering excellent quality patient care.
What makes Dietitians great?
Good communication skills - the ability to put science and evidence-based guidelines into practical advice that patients are able to follow, communicating with each individual to work out their barriers to change and using motivational interviewing to help them achieve these targets.
Why should you become a dietitian?
Being a dietitian has provided me with a fantastic career where I feel I am really helping make a difference each day with the advice and support I give. I work in a department with over 15 dietitians where we all have a different role, there is something to suit everyone. If you like working in an acute team, out in the community or even freelance this job offers that flexibility. I’ve worked both part and full time and have colleagues who have worked as far away as New Zealand. There are many options available to you.