Working as a Dietitian in Belfast Trust

Diabetes Specialist Dietitian Judith Thompson works in the Outpatient department in Belfast Trust.  Here she shares a little bit about her job, and what it's like to work for Belfast Trust.


Can you tell us how about your job and what you do from day to day?

I am a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian in the Belfast Trust. I work in the Outpatient department alongside a team of Diabetologists and Diabetes Specialist Nurses. We see a range of people with different types of diabetes, including Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. My primary role is to advise clients on the most recent evidence based dietary guidelines to help manage their diabetes and reduce the risk of both short and long term complications of diabetes. Diabetes Specialist Dietitians within the Belfast Trust also deliver group education sessions for people with diabetes to improve their knowledge, skills and confidence, and enable them to take more control of their condition. I currently deliver DAFNE, which is a program that teaches people with Type 1 diabetes how to self-adjust their insulin doses depending on their dietary intakes.

How long have you been in your current role?

I qualified as a dietitian in 2009 and have worked in a variety of dietetic roles. I started working in my current role last year.

What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?

A degree in dietetics is required to become a dietitian. I completed a four year undergraduate degree in dietetics at the University of Ulster, however there are several universities in the UK where you can study dietetics. The course involves placements in both the hospital and community setting. Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is required prior to commencing a post. The title ‘Dietitian’ is protected and we are the only nutrition professionals regulated by law. Several years working as a dietitian is required prior to specialising in a certain area such as diabetes.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?

The biggest challenge is separating fact from fiction when it comes to dietary messages. With so many mixed messages portrayed in the media, especially in regards to diabetes, people get confused and are unsure what to eat. As a registered dietitian, any dietary advice I provide is evidence based and safe to follow.

What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?

If you have an interest in diet, health and helping people, then you should look into a career in dietetics. Most Trusts have dietetic open days, arranged through Charter, for school pupils to learn more about what the job entails, or look on the British Dietetic Association website for further information.

What do you like best about your role and working in health and social care?

I enjoy meeting a wide range of people each day, and find it rewarding helping them improve their health and quality of life.