Throughout the month of November we are highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a key role in bariatric care. Today, we’re sharing a Q & A from Sarah Miller, a Registered Dietitian at the Regional Bariatric Care Centre (RBCC).
What does it take to be a Registered Dietitian?
To become a Registered Dietitian, the completion of an undergraduate degree in food and nutritional sciences, an internship practicum and national licensing exam are required. Dietitians help simplify the science of nutrition to provide advice and information that meets the needs of their clients, while supporting healthy living
What inspired you to work in bariatrics?
Working in other areas in health care, I witnessed the inequities for people living in larger bodies and with obesity. Patients are often blamed for their excess weight and it is assumed that their weight is the cause of any or all health concerns they report. Working first hand with these patients, I knew their struggle was complicated and seemed somewhat out of their control. Learning about the science and etiology of obesity has helped me understand the complexities in order to educate patients and health care providers about this disease.
What is unique about your role?
I am passionate about providing excellent patient care and helping people improve their quality of life. My role in this highly specialized area, allows me to do that. I work with our local multidisciplinary team, and provincial group of Registered Dietitians in bariatric medicine. I am also a hub team member of the Project ECHO Ontario Bariatric Network, a virtual interactive education and capacity building program that supports health care providers in delivering quality care to their patients living with obesity or who have received specialty care from a Bariatric Centre of Excellence.
How does your role impact patient care?
Weight bias, stigma and discrimination is rampant in our schools, workplaces, health systems and media. 64% of adults with obesity report experiencing weight bias from a health care professional. This results in these patients avoiding the health care system. We provide access to evidence-based and people-centred health care services for individuals living with obesity. It is very rewarding to see patients improve their health and quality of life.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle is part of your daily messaging to patients. Do you have any personal tips on how to stay healthy?
Make time for meal planning. Start by dedicating 10 minutes each day to consider what the rest of the day (or next day) looks like for food access and meals. Make a plan for how to access healthy foods and reduce barriers. Be gentle with yourself. No one is a “perfect eater. “
Any final thoughts?
Visit the Obesity Canada website https://obesitycanada.ca/weight-bias/bust-the-bias/ for their “Bust the Bias” series. These educational videos provide research and evidenced-based information that clears the air on common misconceptions about obesity.