Thursday, 23 May 2019
Master's student Stacey Gunn (left) and Professional Practice Fellow Angie Lucas in the new Student Dietitian Clinic kitchen that can be used for a range of purposes including research, demonstrations and community education. .
We are what we eat, but what to eat can be a constant dilemma as we stand in supermarket aisles deciding which product to pop in our baskets.
Over time our eating habits can also become deeply engrained so it is possible that what we are eating may not be nutritionally optimal for our individual needs.
To help address such concerns, the Department of Human Nutrition’s Dietetics programme has developed free Nutrition Warrant of Fitness (WOF) assessments for staff and postgraduates.
"The WOF assessments are an important milestone for the students as it’s their first time running a consultation independently, and the resulting growth we see in their development is phenomenal."
The Nutrition WOF is a structured consultation undertaken by first-year Master of Dietetics students, with the support of Professional Practice Fellows who are New Zealand-registered dietitians.
The 60-minute consultation involves the development and analysis of a detailed nutrition assessment, with a resulting plan and strategy tailored to the individual’s needs and lifestyle.
Director of Dietetics Dr Sue MacDonell says the sheer quantity of nutrition advice now readily available can make it very difficult for people to identify scientifically proven evidence-based advice.
“Students are taught to work with clients to offer tailored sustainable plans that have long term benefits for the client,” Dr MacDonnell says.
The WOF consultation is assessed as part of the students’ two year Master's course, which has a big emphasis on applied experience through clinical and hospital placements.
“The WOF assessments are an important milestone for the students as it’s their first time running a consultation independently,” Dr MacDonnell says, “and the resulting growth we see in their development is phenomenal.”
Stacey Gunn is now in her second year of her Master's and was involved in the WOF assessments last year.
“Often people come to us just for reassurance they are eating well and we can offer advice on small changes they can make, or they come to us with a specific concern they want to address,” Miss Gunn says.
"I’m just conscious of fuelling my body with food that supports my lifestyle, and is nutritious and enjoyable."
“We interacted with patients who presented us with a whole range of scenarios, and because everyone eats, it feels great that I can use my knowledge to help anyone.”
Dr MacDonnell adds the consultations also give the students opportunity to develop soft skills such as empathy and motivational interviewing techniques that are now an essential requirement of patient centred approaches.
Miss Gunn is now looking forward to her upcoming professional placement in Hawkes Bay during semester two, which follows her recent two months in Northland.
For her research she interviewed teenage females about nutrition in Whangarei, the data also contributing to the wider and on-going Human Nutrition’s Survey of Nutrition, Dietary Assessment and Lifestyles (SuNDiAL) Project.
As for Miss Gunn’s own nutritional behaviour, the active heptathlon athlete says she doesn’t restrict her eating habits or stick to strict diets.
“I’m just conscious of fuelling my body with food that supports my lifestyle, and is nutritious and enjoyable.”
Please note: due to popularity, the upcoming June Nutrition WOF assessments are now fully booked, so the advice from Angie Lucas is to get in fast for next year!