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PA Hospital Director of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jan Hill will wrap up her 38-year career in the specialty after steering her team through the mire of COVID, while still managing to leave a legacy of new models of care and research-led innovation as the cherry on top.
Taking up the position of Director at PAH in 2015, Jan’s foothold in the industry was already founded in 25 years of working in the UK and RBWH, including three years in the state-wide Patient Safety and Quality improvement Service, alongside significant improvements in the profession of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“When I first started, the average length of stay was much longer so much of our work focused on inpatient education and management. A newly diagnosed diabetic patient would be admitted for a week and have education on how to manage their condition,” she said.
“Now Nutrition and Dietetics service delivery for some cohorts is done completely in the outpatient setting."
She cites an example thanks to the emergence of new models of care such as Radiation Oncology over the past 30 years, which means patients having treatment for cancers of the head and neck or oesophagus, have frequent and specific monitoring as outpatients to prevent an in-hospital admission.
Improvements in the specialty of Nutrition and Dietetics are now commonplace thanks to the maturity of the research program at PAH which Jan says is a huge drawcard for those Dietitians wanting to do research higher degree studies.
“The Nutrition and Dietetics specialists coming through in this next generation are the best of the best!” she said. “They are the smartest, the brightest, the most committed to applying themselves to this specialty, because they have had to prove this just to get into the degree which requires OP1 entry (on the old scale), and again to get placements at PA from this competitive field.
“The team is amazing and I’m really going to miss them. I’m proud to have been a part of the workforce capacity we are building with two graduates each year, up to eight university placements at a time and the significant legacy of research attached to this team."
Jan also reflects that COVID was a career-defining disruptor to modern medicine which had some surprising positive opportunities for both patient and team management.
“COVID really took the outpatient model one-step further with the transition to telehealth, online appointments and regular communication by phone to make sure that management plans are being followed.”
She said that the move for all staff to have remote access early in the pandemic meant that structuring the team to deliver essential services meant that inpatients and outpatients were actively managed without the need to defer nutrition management when staff were furloughed.
“COVID really forced us to innovate, particularly with remote service delivery, but Microsoft Teams as a communication method for our team is embedded for good.”
Jan puts the lid on her Nutrition and Dietetics career on 24 June.