Returning to Practice

A reflective account by Debbie Paterson, Specialist Dietitian, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Returning to dietetics after a 10 year career break has been, for me, a bit of a roller coaster ride with a rewarding outcome.

Looking back, a year and a half later, now re- registered as a dietitian and in a very similar role to the one I left in NHS Fife – Specialist Dietitian in Weight Management and Diabetes- I am so thankful!

Being an employee of NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been a positive experience for me made not only by the opportunities offered to me but the incredible support of my colleagues, the diabetes team.

My husband and I, with our 2 young daughters, moved to lovely Dumfries and Galloway in October 2019 for my husband’s work and settled just outside of Holywood in the scenic countryside. Combining home schooling, online church services/activities and our daily country walks kept me busy.

In summer 2020 I decided I would return to dietetics although I felt pretty daunted about the process I had to complete to be re- registered. I tentatively contacted the diabetes team at Mountainhall Treatment Centre in September 2020. A meeting with Sheena MacDonald, MCN manager presently and dietetic manager at that time was arranged. I left hopeful that not only would NHS D and G support me in returning to practice but they may recruit me to a band 4 Dietetic Assistant Practitioner (DAP) position if successful at interview, while accruing the evidence needed to re- register as a dietitian. Sheena introduced me to Wendy Chalmers,  Practice Education Lead,  who gave me clear guidance regarding the requirements necessary to return to practice and the support NHS D and G could give.  

Following applying for the band 4 DAP position, a successful interview, PVG approval and a week of induction I started work in the diabetes centre in February 2021.

NHS D and G are unique in that they encourage allied health professionals like myself  who are planning to return to practice the opportunity to work as an undergraduate ( band 4) while collating evidence in order to re-register ( in my case, 450 hours of supervised practice in addition to literature reviews and attending appropriate study days).

Working in a dietetic department again was great, the team very welcoming, friendly and kind. I had so many questions which they answered very graciously. In some ways it felt like I had never left dietetics at all and in others things had changed so much!  Paper patient records had been replaced by online records and, in addition, due to the recent pandemic all patients were being seen by the team through ‘near me’, team meetings met via teams and the majority of the team worked from home, working one day a week in the office on a rota basis. I felt like a ‘duck out of water’! At times I felt quite overwhelmed by all I had to learn and be up-skilled in, however, my weekly meetings with Sheena and the teams’ support encouraged me to keep going.

By October ’21 I had completed the required 450 hours of supervised practice and other required work and received my registration …what a relief! I then applied for the band 6 (temporary ) Specialist Dietitian post – 22.5 hours a week – and thankfully was offered the job.

Six months later in April 2022 the same job was advertised, this time as a permanent position, I applied and thankfully was again successful in securing the job. So NHS D and G have been good to me, it has been a very productive 20 months, 3 successful job interviews, re-registration and now a permanent job in the speciality I feel passionate about, working hours that fit around my family commitments. Very grateful 🙂


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