Case study

Community nutritionist — Georgia Leech

Georgia finds working in the community extremely rewarding and likes to know she's helped parents to give their children the best start in life

How did you get your current job?

I applied for my current role via the NHS jobs website.

I was interviewed by two members of the team, including the team manager. I was asked a number of questions around paediatric nutrition, specific to the under fives, and was also required to deliver a ten minute presentation around the key points to discuss in a weaning group for new mums.

I would strongly recommend registering with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) as this helps to highlight your professional qualification

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree in diet and health has been invaluable to my current role, however any job requires you to learn new skills and take on-board new information.

The modules I feel were most helpful were public health nutrition, nutrition through life stages, and current nutritional issues.

Working as a community nutritionist requires you to have a sound understanding of current public health issues specific to sub-population groups, such as pregnant women, infants and young children.

What are your main work activities?

I work as part of a multi-disciplinary team which includes community midwives, family support workers and health visitors, based in children's centres.

I run education sessions for pregnant women and children aged 0-19 years and their families, who live in the London Borough of Newham. The groups can vary from healthy eating in pregnancy sessions, to introducing infants to solid foods and nutrition for toddlers.

I see some families on a one-to-one basis, for example if their child is overweight, underweight or a fussy eater, and will set out a plan for the family to help support their child in achieving a healthy weight or to reduce fussy eating.

My team also provides training and support for other professionals, such as health visitors and nursery and children's centre staff, with the aim of raising awareness of adequate nutrition for 0-19 year olds. This can include training around vitamin D promotion, the five-a-day message and stopping prolonged bottle use in children over the age of one year.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Having worked in the team for almost three years now, I have gained more responsibility and involvement in service development, delivery and evaluation. I have also been lucky enough to line manage another member of the nutrition team, providing support and guidance.

I would like to continue to develop in this role but would like to experience working with other population groups such as the elderly.

What do you enjoy about your job?

It's very rewarding knowing you have helped to encourage and support families in providing their child with the best start in life, whether that be through healthy eating in pregnancy sessions, weaning groups or weight management groups.

Delivering education sessions is my favourite part of the role, followed closely by one-to-one work. I also enjoy leading on the cooking classes project.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I work in a very dynamic and diverse borough of London, which can make communicating with families difficult, as English is often not the first language.

This requires adapting sessions and style of delivery to ensure all families can be reached and supported, regardless of learning style and ability.

What tips do you have for securing a nutrition post?

Having relevant work experience will help you stand out when applying for community nutritionist roles. At university I volunteered for MEND and I feel this helped add more weight to my application.

I would also strongly recommend registering with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) as this helps to highlight your professional qualification. Many employers now require this for nutrition roles.

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