Dietitian

    Savita Sandhu

    QUT
    Placements gave Savita an opportunity to build professional relationships with inspiring and supportive dietitians. Image: QUT

    Savita Sandhu overcame her own personal health challenges to graduate with a degree in nutrition and dietetics

    It was Savita Sandhu’s personal journey with food intolerances and an autoimmune illness that inspired her to pursue a career in health. “I had a wonderful practitioner who took the time to explain to me, at 11 years old, what was happening with my body and why each dietary strategy would help,” she recalls. “Following this, I became fascinated with nutritional biochemistry and pathology – understanding the mechanisms underlying how illnesses develop and the therapeutic role of food in treating them on a cellular level.”

    So, after school, Savita enrolled in a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics at QUT. However, she continued to struggle with her health. “If I continued on this path, I’m not sure how I would have been able to finish my degree, hold down a job or look after the relationships in my life – let alone walk 100 metres some days!” she says.

    Luckily, Savita was enrolled in a pilot program called Smart Patient (now Health Commons) which “was pivotal in enabling me to come to terms with my health, make a clear road map for the path ahead and restore joy, autonomy and spontaneity to my life”.

    Real-world experience

    Soon after graduating in 2021, Savita launched her own practice, called Savvy Dietetics. She has also continued her connection with Health Commons, but now as an assistant on their trial health app project, called Food is Medicine.

    Savita says work placement opportunities during her degree at QUT helped her to establish her own career path.

    “After going on placement to many hospitals and healthcare services, I realised that I did not want to pursue a clinical dietitian path working in a hospital, and that instead I was seeking more flexibility with my work and a chance to incorporate my patient advocacy skills into the nutrition care process,” she says. 

    “Placements gave me an opportunity to build professional relationships with inspiring and supportive dietitians who helped me to discover this.”

    Living the dream

    And now, Savita is doing her dream job, helping patients just like herself.

    “At my clinic, I am passionate about helping my clients find ease and clarity on their health journey through tailored, evidence-based dietary advice,” says Savita.

    “Using my dietetic knowledge, patient advocacy training and personal experiences, I help my clients ‘join the dots’ to understand how their symptoms and diet are related, with the goal of having them walking away feeling validated and confident about the journey ahead.” 

    Aside from managing her own health challenges, Savita says one of the biggest hurdles she has faced on her career journey has been self-doubt. “Deciding to start my own private practice was so scary, and I honestly had no clue where to start as I’ve had no business training,” she says. Thankfully a supportive network of friends and family have helped her forge ahead.

    As for the future, Savita is particularly excited about the potential for technological innovation in her field, particularly health and nutrition related mobile apps, and hopes to incorporate tech into her practice more. “There is so much opportunity for innovation in this area!” she says. – Gemma Chilton

    Savita’s pathway

    • Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours), QUT
    • Project Manager, Health Commons 
    • Director, Savvy Dietetics
    • Dietitian, Brisbane Pain Rehabilitation Service

    This article was created in partnership with QUT and originally appears in the QUT STEM Guide 2022.

    READ MORE:

    Gemma Chilton

    Author: Gemma Chilton

    Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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