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Frankenfurters, future generations and faraway lands

Vienna… a city that conjures images of magnificent squares and grand palaces, music, art nouveau, history, and of course – food (apple strudel anyone?).

As part of their mandatory overseas placement experience, in 2017 the entire Bond Master of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice cohort experienced this charming city to enhance their global understanding of nutrition and dietetics issues. Their excursion was filled with various learning activities (interspersed, of course, with eating schnitzel and sachertorte, visiting local markets, and ordering excessive amounts of coffee….with more sachertorte).

Scheduled to coincide with the 3rd International Nutrition and Growth Conference, the students were given a platform to discuss the interplay between nutrition and growth in children over 3 intensive days. The conference brought together international specialists to facilitate interdisciplinary and international collaborations around this issue.

Bondy, Lauren Subota found the conference to be of particular value.

“With an interest in paediatrics – child health and nutrition, my experience working in the birth suite in the hospital and my current research project on breastfeeding, there was much to learn in the area I am most passionate about.”

“As a dietitian in training, and my constant interactions with parents of young children I’m often questioned about my knowledge on what nutrition is best for baby.  The learning that I acquired from attending this course reinstated the importance of the children of our future generation, and helped me decide that I’d like to pursue my interest in paediatrics.”

Following the conference, a number of other activities were organised for the week, including a personalised tour of the United Nations Office in Vienna, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Monica Montalti found it an eye opening experience.

“One of my career aspirations is to work for the United Nations (UN).  Touring through the headquarters was a surprising and informative experience, and an eye opener to just how enormous the UN is, and how many collaborators it has. I was unaware of the large role nutrition plays in the IAE and the various nutrition–related projects it is involved in, such as research around techniques to assess human milk consumption in breastfed babies in Cameroon, tackling childhood obesity in Latin America and assessing micronutrient deficiencies using food-based approaches.

It revealed to me the scope of nutrition intervention from an international perspective and the global capacity of an organisation to battle nutrition related diseases across the world. I am now, even more so than before, completely determined to work for the United Nations and form a career in public health nutrition across the world.”

The Dietetics cohort also got to meet their Austrian counterparts - with a special visit to the FH Campus Wien – the largest University of Applied Science in Austria, to facilitate comparisons between the Australian and Austrian dietetic industries.

“Naturally, we spent the first hour eating lamingtons and making them eat Vegemite…for which we apologized with Tim Tams”  joked Mycah Anast.  

“We then ruined their fantasy that Australia is filled with thin, fit people in bikinis and boardshorts, and gently broke the news that the country is nearly 65% overweight or obese.”

The students discussed similarities and differences in their industry, including public versus private healthcare.  It was discovered that Australia faces similar challenges to Austria, with patients having poor quality diets and how to use the nutrition care process to help intervene and negotiate with the patient to improve health outcomes.

“It was interesting to hear that a lot of the issues that we come across a dietitians in Australia such as chronic disease management, and limited fruit and vegetable consumption were also quite significant within the Viennese population. Although the profiles of both countries are very different, the interventions and negotiating techniques in the delivery of guidelines and key health messages is similar, but just used in a different context,” Monica said.

Visiting Vienna provided a rich experience to the students and they developed a newfound understanding for what is required of Australian dietitians.  Living in such a highly multicultural country, the students discovered how that can impact a new dietitian’s way of thinking when consulting with patients.

“It’s safe to say I experienced a food coma during the time I stayed in Vienna but I also realised the challenges we can face as dietitians in Australia, with our country being so multicultural. During a consult, we conduct food recall to analyse a patient’s food intake. We have to understand not everyone has the same ‘typical’ Australian diet so it’s very important to keep in mind and be aware of what foods people eat as this can build rapport during a consult with patients, and can help analyse a more accurate nutrition assessment,” said Lauren.

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