Adjusting to UK as a dietitian from South Africa

Mayuri Baichan
September 7, 2023
5 min read

Mayuri is a dietitian who moved over from South Africa (SA), to work with Primary Care Dietitians in a role in Maidenhead. Here, Mayuri shares with us how she has adapted to life in the UK, and some of the key differences between working in South Africa vs the UK.

Mayuri in South Africa!

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when first starting to work as a dietitian in the UK? How did you adapt?

I think the biggest adjustments were learning the patient recording systems, trying to figure out how the NHS functions at different levels and the various stakeholders and their functions. All of these are very different to what we have back home.

If you are in the process of figuring it all out, give yourself time. I remember feeling quite lost initially but with the support and training opportunities available, I soon became confident. Every day is a learning opportunity - embrace it.

How competitive is the job market for dietitians in the UK compared to South Africa?

The job market is booming with endless opportunities compared to SA where you may wait months / years for a single opening in the government sector or where unspoken territorial wars continue in the private sector preventing new dietitians’ entry. If you have an opportunity to work in the UK, grab it!

What do you think are some of the biggest health and nutrition issues facing the UK population today? How do these compare to South Africa?

Working in primary care here in the UK, the most common conditions are overweight and obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Gut conditions and frailty are also very common. In SA, similar conditions are prevalent in the private sector. However, in the government sector, there is more focus on HIV / AIDS, TB and malnutrition. In recent years, overweight and obesity in SA has become a serious public health issue, with the lack of education further worsening this.

Foods are regulated more stringently here in the UK, there is more education about healthy eating. The public are empowered to take control of their health and there are a variety of easily accessible programmes available to manage their conditions.

How accessible are services like nutrition counselling and dietitian referrals in the UK healthcare system compared to South Africa?

These are easily accessible, unlike in South Africa. In SA, with the government sector, there are limited resources. For example, in staffing or the presciption of oral nutritional supplements.

What advice would you give to other South African dietitians considering working in the UK?

There are great opportunities available in the UK, more than we could ever anticipate having in SA. The opportunity to focus on areas of dietetics which you are interested in allows you the opportunity to develop in your area of interest(s). In the UK, you will have the chance to further your dietetics career, explore different areas of dietetics which are not available in SA and work with professionals from all around the world gaining invaluable insight.

Mayuri Baichan
First Contact Dietitian, Primary Care Dietitians