In touch with… Jolene Thomas

Last Wednesday 14 October was Allied Health Professionals Day, so we’re sharing an insight into the world of Dr Jolene Thomas, a practising dietitian and Flinders academic focused on clinical dietetics.

What does it mean to you to be an allied health professional?

Being an allied health professional means I am part of a team of disciplines with the same goal – optimising the health and wellbeing of others. A great thing is that all allied health professions bring a range of ideas and experiences and skills to the table and are supportive and understanding of what we all contribute to the care of others.

Allied health professionals are also great teachers and supportive of students, which is a very meaningful and important aspect of our work.

What is the best thing about working in your profession?

As a dietitian, I get to combine three passions – food, health and working with people. I get to talk a lot and being a ‘people person’ means I get to work with many different patients/clients and also different professions.

Food is a necessity and crosses international borders so there is a great deal of scope for collaborating with people around the globe. As an academic, I get to share my skills and knowledge with future generations of dietitians and conduct research projects to create new knowledge and understanding.

Can you describe a challenge and how you tackled it? 

Probably the biggest challenge that comes to mind occurred when I decided to take the leap into a PhD whilst beginning a new chapter as a single parent to a two and five year old, and working .8 of a full time load.

The PhD opportunity was perfect for me, however whilst it did not come at an ideal time in my life, I had to grab it with both hands. I decided from the start that I would have to compartmentalise life and accepted that I would need to be ultra-organised, strict in how I spent my time and couldn’t do a perfect job of everything (yes, the housework sometimes had to wait).

It took seven years to complete my PhD, longer than I had thought, but I tend to have unreal expectations!

Where is your favourite spot on Flinders campus?

I have to say that the lake area on main campus is one of my favourite spots at Flinders as well as the gorge area between main and Sturt campuses. It feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

I like to spend my spare time enjoying good food, coffee, a glass or two of wine and also running/training for ½ marathons and my new love… trail running.

Other than that, I am enjoying the time with my children while they are still young enough to want to hang out with mum.

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