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Career nuggets from foodservice manager & dietitian Michelle Suter


“For the last 5 years I have worked as a foodservice manager and head of the dietetic department at Caboolture Hospital in northern Brisbane. Prior to this I worked in both foodservice and clinical roles at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospital and The Park Centre for Mental Health (formerly Wolston Park Hospital).    I haves been actively involved in a number of state and national foodservice projects including the development of standard terminology and definitions for texture modified foods and fluids, piloting of the Certificate training for Dietetic Assistants and the development of Queensland Health Nutrition Standards for meals and menus.

Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
My job involves overseeing both the dietetic and foodservice operations at my facility including menu planning, human resource management, budget analysis, quality and performance.  This also involves regular communication and service planning with my dietetic and foodservice colleagues within the Metro North health service.  No single day is the same and can vary from planning new dietetic paediatric services to mediating disputes between cooks in the kitchen.

What do you most enjoy about your role?
I love the job variety and building connections with staff from both clinical and non-clinical areas.  Working in small facility makes it easy to get things done and improve the quality of services with less red tape.

Tell me a little bit about your career in dietetics thus far and/or why did you choose food service dietetics as a career?
When I graduated I did not expect to wind up working in a foodservice role.  However during my time as the sole dietitian at Wolston Park Hospital I learnt to appreciate how important the foodservice is to the provision of safe and effective clinical dietetic services.  In a large residential mental health facility I found that much more could be achieved through system changes to meal service, menus, cooking groups, canteens e.g. than through individual dietary counselling.   The close connections I built with hotel services paid off and I was given the opportunity to manage the hospital kitchen and have continued to build on this management experience throughout my career.

What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics/food service?
Don’t be afraid to take up opportunities in foodservice and food industry settings.  Your dietetic skills can be applied and the management skills that you acquire may open new doors in your career.

What is one interesting fact about you?
When I’m not working I’m planning my next hiking trip.  In 2012 I walked across England.”

This article was originally published as a profile on Dietitian Connection. My health Career would like to thank both Dietitian Connection and Michelle Suter for allowing us to publish it here!

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