An interview with a dietitian - working remotely

Emma Biddle
August 22, 2023
5 min read

In this post, we chat with dietitian Emma Biddle, who works fully remote for a Primary Care Network (PCN) in Coventry.

Here more about the challenges she faces working remotely, and how she has tried to overcome these.

Question: What are some of the biggest advantages you've found in being able to work remotely?

This is the first fully remote role since I graduated as a dietitian in 2008.  It has been a huge change moving from the acute into a fully remote role within Primary care.  I find that working remotely means less distractions, I can work independently and manage my time effectively.  I have the resources I need (my laptop, VPN and smartcard), which allows me to access the clinical systems I need to assess my patients and liaise with the MDT.

Working remotely has also helped with cost savings, due to reduced travel expenses! It also means I am greener to the environment.  I also save time and have more flexibility.  As a busy working parent with two children, this has improved my worked life balance massively.

What are some of the main challenges you face working remotely compared to being in-office? How do you deal with those challenges?

One of the main challenges I have found is to differentiate my personal space with my work space.  I am keen to ensure my work life doesn't encroach into my personal life and vice versa.  I have overcome this by setting up a dedicated work station within my house.   I always ensure that when I am finished for the day, I always tidy away my work things, so it is not still looking at me when I am enjoying my dinner!

As this is a new role, it is slightly more challenging to ensure all the MDT are aware of the new service when working remotely.  To help liaise with others, I always try to respond to emails and tasks sent via EMIS in a time manner.  

At the start of the role, I went in personally to meet the teams in the various GP surgeries I cover.  I also play an active part in any meetings I have been invited too and spent some time networking, so people are aware of the new post and the services I am starting to provide.  More recently I have been working on a newsletter with some useful facts and figures and a helpful, 'did you know' section, to remind the team I am available within the PCN.    

I do miss some of the social interaction that work can give you. Just general day to day 'chit chat' has been lost.  However, I am very social outside of work, so have lots of time for chats when my work day has finished.  I feel that is it important to make sure you have plenty of time outside the house when not at work, otherwise the days may feel long.

My main struggle has been the loss of activity.  My step count has reduced by about 5,000 steps a day! As some who likes to be active and uses exercise as a stress reliver, it has been hard to account for my lost steps.  Some days I will wake up early and go for a walk or run before work and on other days, I will go for a walk in my lunch break.  On days that I feel haven't moved enough I will ensure I work a little harder at the gym to compensate for my reduce movement.

What advice would you give to other dietitians who are considering pursuing fully remote roles?

As a dietitian that has worked in the acute for so long, I always think its a good starting place as you are exposed to so many different conditions and learn so much clinical dietetics.  I think a fully remote role would be a challenge for someone who has just graduated or is brand new to the world of dietetics.

Working as a fully remote dietitian does mean you have to be confident at assessing patients and liaising with other members of the MDT when you have patients you are particularly concerned about.  

It is probably always a good idea to speak to a dietitian who is working remotely before you commit to the change and a SWOT analysis always comes in handy when making big changes to any life decision!

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Emma Biddle
First Contact Dietitian, Primary Care Dietitians