PRIMARY HEALTH CARE - CHRONIC DISEASE
for something nutrishus
|(me outside Kingcome school, beside the health center, one of the communities I worked with)|
One thing I find very interesting about our profession is that it seems to be more than a job. Many dietitians like Bronwyn have careers or are advancing their education and then try to find 'spare-time' to start private practices and share more of their knowledge, expertise, and passion. We seem to always be dietitians, whether we're punching the clock or not, but being a dietitian may mean being a 'counsellor' or myth-buster, not just a food and nutrition expert. We also see the value in preventative health care which will be very important as we look to the future and the burden on our health care system when it becomes time for treatment, especially when many of the chronic conditions people like Bronwyn work with have lifestyle and nutrition components involved in risk reduction.
Why did you become a RD?
I became a dietitian after starting university in creative writing and feeling very unsatisfied. I’d been interested personally in food and nutrition since starting long distance running in high school and discovering how powerful food can be in our health. I started taking science and nutrition courses and there was no going back.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I work in primary health care. The main focus of my practice is working with adults who have chronic diseases – everything from chronic pain or COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to diabetes, heart disease and even eating disorders.
I am also trying/attempting – in my limited free time between work, school and social activities – to start some private practice work, but it’s slow going!
How would you explain what you do?
Simply put I usually say I talk to people about food and nutrition.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Typically my week is a mix of seeing clients one-on-one, creating presentations and presenting on nutrition issues such as label reading, or diabetes. In between is finding time for paperwork, getting a hold of follow up clients and things like that. I only work three days a week currently, and am working on a distance graduate program on my days off.
What has been your career path?
My first job was in a rural part of Vancouver Island, called the Mt. Waddington Region. I worked as the primary health and community dietitian; basically I covered everything nutrition related not in the hospital. On top of duties similar to my current job I also worked with a Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program creating healthy and yummy recipes for pregnant women and new moms while also trying to create fun activities that educated them on healthy eating for them and their baby. I also worked a lot with many Aboriginal communities; even flying into isolated communities on islands and the coast of BC. It was an extremely all around adventurous job! I tell everyone to take a rural position if they can because you can really make the job anything you want.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I’m currently doing a Master of Adult Education through St. Francis Xavier University. I love it! I never thought I’d go back to school, but this program is so fantastic.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Hmmm. I’d love to see more dietitian jobs being created in our health authorities, especially full time jobs. I’d love these to also be in the preventative areas such as primary health, or public health for example. I’d love for RD services to be covered by more extended health care programs so that RDs can have private practices and nutrition services can still be accessible to everyone. We know nutrition is so key to our lives and health, let’s show it through supporting the work of RDs!
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
I’ve seen so many folks write this but WE ARE NOT THE FOOD POLICE. I’ve had friends say they didn’t want to sit in front of me when we’re out to eat; where I’ve laughed and told them I am totally eating french fries so NO JUDGEMENT.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
We are all unique; yes we all work from a science and evidence based background but each of us has a different approach and works from a different food philosophy. Find one of us to work with that you get along with; want vegetarian or vegan nutrition? There’s an RD for that. Interested in improving your sports performance? There’s an RD for that. Not interested in being scolded for your weight? There’s an RD for that! We are a diverse group of people, with our own unique way of providing sound evidenced based nutrition information.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
It can be really challenging to fight the misinformation that exists out there. If I had a dollar for every nutrition consultation that began with, “Well I’ve been cutting back on bread…” no matter what their health issue I’d be pretty darn rich! It feels like a daily battle to try and fight the food fads, the fear mongering around food and health and the unscientific mumbo-jumbo that permeates our media these days.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I love helping people feel empowered and happy around food. I work with so many women (and men) who are chronic dieters, and are so sure one more diet will help them lose weight/cure their diabetes/end all their health woes. Sadly a lot of societal messaging reinforces this idea for them. Helping them break away from the eternal guilt and stress that surrounds their every food choices is what brings me joy in my work.
What is your favourite meal?
How do you choose one? I love all meals, I’ve never been able to understand people who miss a meal!
More about Bronwyn:
Website: Bronwyn Coyne, RD
Blog: Baking on the Side
Linkedin: Bronwyn Coyne
Thanks Bronwyn! Find out more about What RDsDo.
If you're a dietitian that would like to be featured, email me for the details!