I am Sarah Ballis, a clinical dietitian at The Harley Street Clinic who looks after people undergoing cancer treatments that affect their ability to eat and drink. Some of my patients undergo radiotherapy to the mouth, throat and neck, and cannot eat due to pain. Others have undergone surgery that has affected their ability to chew or swallow. Many of my patients have a feeding tube into their stomach used to deliver liquid nutrition without them having to swallow it.
What made you choose this career?
I have always loved science and being around people. Nutrition is a highly complex evidence-based science and being a dietitian allows me to do a scientific job whilst working closely with people. I began my studies with a Bachelor of Science and worked in a laboratory for a time. I then decided to further my studies in a health science, and chose dietetics, as this was a topic that I’ve always been fascinated with.
Describe a typical day in your department?
It is fortunate that there are few dietetic emergencies! So I am lucky enough in the 24-7 health world to be required only during business hours. I spend around half of my day seeing patients in an outpatient clinic or in the hospital. The rest of my day is consumed by paperwork, medical documentation, record keeping and administration like ordering the artificial feeds used by the patients.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Learning about new advancements in medical technology that make it easier and safer to look after people. In intensive care for example, computers now measure almost all clinical observations and can calculate people’s energy expenditure, protein utilization, fluid balance, blood glucose levels and allow us to monitor a patient’s status in real time much more accurately.
What are you most proud of in your role?
Seeing people get better and knowing that my recommendations, food and support played a significant role in their recovery.
Do you have a motto? Or a life rule?
Don’t take anything for granted! I see people every day that would give anything to have good health again.
What inspires you?
Smart people. People who think in ways I can’t.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I was born in New Zealand, raised in Australia and I’m half Greek. I have citizenship in all three countries. Now ‘brexit’ might force me to collect yet another passport!