Mutual recognition profiles

Where diclinicpicnov2016-r-soniassyd you graduate?
I completed a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University in Adelaide, graduating in 2006.

What are your main dietetic areas of interest?
I started my career in rural Victoria and as sole ward dietitian, I was able to cover a wide range of generalist and specialist areas. Clinical dietetics has always been a passion and whilst my interests are varied, I fell into paediatrics five years ago and since then particularly enjoy intensive care, allergies and feeding difficulties. I also love teaching and mentoring.

Why did you apply for mutual recognition (MR)?
I am from the tiny island of Mauritius and moved to Adelaide to study dietetics. I have always loved travelling and really enjoyed my student placements in Darwin and country Victoria. After working for four years in Hamilton, I was ready for a new challenge and felt that New Zealand was the perfect choice. While similar to Australia in so many ways, it is also very different and offers wonderful travel opportunities. I met my husband as I was about to head back and have now adopted his hometown (Auckland) but we both love Australia and have not ruled out a return!

How easy or difficult was the application process?
I found the process to be easy and hassle-free. The required reading and cultural competency module/test were useful and straightforward. I was registered within a fortnight and moved to Auckland to start my new job within three months.

What would you say to other dietitians who are thinking about applying for MR?
Dietetics is a larger profession in Australia and therefore does offer wider opportunities and better remuneration overall. However there is still a lot to gain from working in New Zealand both professionally and personally, so think about your goals and how working overseas will benefit you. In terms of the logistics, I personally preferred to secure a job before moving and did a fair amount of homework in preparation e.g. booking a rental car, arranging a house sit close to the hospital, having car and house viewings lined up etc. This was really useful as I moved by myself and with no networks in NZ. I found that my preparation paid off and really helped with a smooth transition.

Describe some of the positive experiences you have had in dietetics whilst in Australia
I really enjoyed the course at Flinders and the opportunity to travel interstate for placement. This really broadened my horizons and provided for huge personal growth. I absolutely loved working at the Western District Health Service in Hamilton. Everyone was so welcoming and with me being far away from home, the wonderful team of Dietitians and wider allied health really did become family. To this day I still feel that the rural setting provided me with some of the best examples of successful multidisciplinary and collaborative work. It was also fantastic at keeping me on my toes in terms of the range of experiences and complexities that would come my way.

Describe some of the positive experiences you have had in dietetics whilst in New Zealand
Dietetics is a smaller profession in New Zealand but it is growing and the dietitians are very proactive in their approach. It was very exciting to see prescribing added to the scope of practice of NZ Dietitians and the huge benefits that came of it. Waitakere Hospital is where I specialised in paediatrics and whilst quite challenging at first, I grew to love working with children and families and found it to be incredibly rewarding. I was also fortunate to work with the inspiring team at Massey University to create a new MSc dietetic training programme and led the development of the very first simulation practice module for dietetic students in New Zealand.

Describe your current dietetic work.
After 4 years of juggling a hospital based clinical role and a university based teaching role, I recently moved full time to Massey University. I lead the Professional Practice paper which entails managing all the practical and placement experiences for our MSc students. I really enjoy seeing students grow and develop and particularly love witnessing those light bulb moments! I get a real buzz out of their achievements and do feel very privileged to be a part of their learning journey, which also enables me to meet amazing dietitians from all areas of practice. I am keen to remain clinically active and therefore also contribute to our campus clinic as well as conduct various talks and group programmes across Auckland.

Were you able to find work in your area of expertise?
Yes, my experience in rural Australia was wide ranging and this was well regarded in the NZ setting. I did not seek any specific area of practice as I was open to all opportunities. I was keen to experience dietetics in a new country and get a grasp on the different processes in place as well as working with different cultures. I started with a mix of medical, rehabilitation and maternity wards as well as covering outpatient services. I was offered a paediatric role a year later and this encompassed special care, inpatients and outpatients. Interestingly I had not previously considered paediatrics but was ready to embrace a new challenge and I am glad I did as I absolutely love it!

What other areas of dietetics would you like to explore?
I have had quite an ‘open-mind’ approach to my career and this has led me to experience a range of areas, many of which I had not necessarily considered before or even thought I might like but then really enjoyed. I therefore like to keep myself open to all new opportunities. As I love the combination of clinical work and teaching, I would look at weaving this into any future practice area. I am also developing a real appreciation for public health dietetics so may well explore this in future.

Do you have any final words of encouragement for dietitians thinking about applying for MR?
It has been a great experience for me and for so many other dietitians. MR between the two countries is an excellent initiative and if you feel like a change, both Australia and New Zealand offer some wonderful opportunities for work and play. All the best with your move and I would be happy to chat to anyone relocating to Auckland!