Tuesday 29th September 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2015
Lorna Breeze on being a Macmillan dietetic assistant practitioner
I graduated from Northumbria University in June 2013 with a BSc (Hons) in applied sport and exercise science. Through a placement as a healthy lifestyle adviser during my final year at university, combined with my experience as an international athlete representing Great Britain, I realised nutrition was my main interest within the field of health.
My personal experience of a relative with a cancer diagnosis further inspired me to take up a career within dietetics, and to give back to a profession that supported my family. This led to the start of my current role in September 2013 as Macmillan dietetic assistant practitioner within the Macmillan Nutrition Project in NHS Ayrshire & Arran.
I work on local oncology wards, providing firstline dietary advice to people receiving day-case chemotherapy and enabling them to self-manage nutritional side effects of treatment. This is achieved by encouraging the completion of activities within a supported self-management workbook called ‘Steps to Help You’, allowing people to reflect on their nutritional status throughout treatment. I also lead a group weight-management programme, which the team has tailored to suit people with a cancer diagnosis who are struggling with their weight or rate of weight gain.
A substantial part of my remaining workload involves supporting health promotion activities across the local area, promoting cancer prevention messages, and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. Alongside this, I am able to promote the project through poster presentations at conferences and through promotional articles for national and local outlets. I also deliver nutrition and cancer training to NHS and third sector staff.
I have found my role extremely rewarding. I am constantly learning and applying new information in an ever changing, fast-paced environment.
The team has attained feedback during the project regarding the role and the work of the dietetic assistant practitioners, which has been wholly positive and reflects the success of the team. Some of the quotes include:
‘My confidence had fallen during my cancer treatment and I had gained weight which wasn’t helping. The dietetic assistant practitioner helped me by giving me new ideas about food, which helped me to lose weight and thus gain my confidence back.’
‘I didn’t know I needed to see someone until [the assistant practitioner] came along. I just thought it was old age and the disease. She has been great and given me lots of hints and tips.’
My next steps
From my positive experience as Macmillan dietetic assistant practitioner, I have further cemented my desire to go on to study a postgraduate degree in dietetics, which I will start soon, enabling me to apply to become a registered dietitian.
Macmillan Dietetic Assistant Practitioner
Kirklandside Hospital, Kilmarnock
Contact via the Mac Voice team.