Maya McColm, APD, AN




for something nutrishus

I'm excited to feature Maya for many reasons, one being that she's the first Australian in the series (which I know she was excited about too), hence her APD (Accredited Practicing Dietitian) credential. As we start to have more dietitians from around the world, we're reminded of the similar challenges we face and the need to support each other so we can support the public with individualized healthy eating advice. I also like that she included more than just the food when I asked what her favourite meal is.

Why did you become a RD? 

As an Australian dietitian, we are “Accredited” and not “Registered”. The issue of registration has been a greatly debated topic amongst Dietitians in Australia. I became a Dietitian because I believe it to be a very honorable and respected profession that can make a significant positive difference in people’s lives.

What area of dietetics do you work in? 

I currently work in private practice, but with a significant entrepreneurial bent. I have developed a web-based technology platform called NERO (Nutrition Education Resources Online), which supports Dietitians to be more effective and efficient during their consultation process using visual education resources and flipped classroom education methodology.

How would you explain what you do? 

As the CEO for NERO, my main task is to fine tune NERO so that it is a great tool for all Dietitians to support their practice and their clients. We have only just launched the first prototype and much work is required to fine-tune NERO to make it easier for Dietitians to use.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks? 

As the CEO for NERO, my work is outside a Dietitian’s usual scope of practice. It mostly includes communicating with web-designers and stakeholders. Many hours are spent in giving talks to Dietetic students at universities, manning stalls and talking at conferences. Running a private practice provides me a great opportunity to test NERO in a true practice setting.

What has been your career path? 

I have been a Dietitian Nutritionist for more than 30 years and during that time I have worked in many professional settings such as: clinical hospital dietetics and a couple of those hospital placements as the department director. I have also worked as a research dietitian with the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and in private practice for the last 15 or so years which included my involvement with NERO. I developed NERO in response to seeing a need within the profession that makes us look more professional and be more effective and efficient.

What advanced education or special training do you have? 

As required to maintain Accreditation as an Australian Dietitian, I have undertaken the required professional development activities. With the development of NERO there has also been the required steep learning curve in many business and technology related subjects.

In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now? 

Sadly, I believe that there are many factors that have been eroding the profession’s position as the leaders in the nutrition industry. These factors include: 1) rapid technology changes, 2) large number of graduating dietetic students, descending on a 3) dietetic profession which is being challenged by celebrities and non professional interlopers disseminating non evidence based nutrition information. 

This is not only a threat to the profession, but also a threat to the health of the population and a threat to common sense. I believe that within the next 5 years we will unite as a profession and support each other to become the respected and valued leaders in all areas of the nutrition industry including clinical (hospital and research), industry, community, government policy making and media.

I believe that Dietitians, Accredited and Registered are incredibly educated and passionate about their profession and their clients. This passion and skill should be harnessed and supported to enable them to take big leaps with courage and conviction within our scope of practice. I also believe that Dietitians should be remunerated in line with their skills and high level of academic training.

What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up? 

There are two important areas that I believe the public is misinformed about Dietitians and what we do and these areas include: 1) Dietitians are NOT the food police, and 2) “weight loss” and “dieting” is not our main focus, but “healthy eating designed for the individual” and then healthy weight changes looks after themselves.

What would you like people to know about RDs? 

Accredited Dietitians are extremely well trained in providing personalized nutritional advice and support based on scientific evidence and not fads and quick fixes that aren’t in the interests of the clients’ long term health objectives.

What are challenges you encounter as a RD? 

The biggest challenge I face as an Accredited Dietitian with many years of experience is seeing the same diet fads raising their ugly heads over and over again and the gullible public repeatedly falling for them. The marketing goal would be to make long term healthy eating a desirable and sexy message that becomes the “fad” that is guided by evidence based research.

What is your favourite meal? 

A meal that contains fresh quality ingredients, with simple flavours, balanced with a glass of great wine, in good company in a beautiful setting. A meal should not just be a group of nutrients, but an example of edible art.

What tip(s) would you give to our readers? 

Be courageous in following your dreams and supportive of your colleagues in the interest of your profession.

Anything else you’d like to add that you feel would be valuable: 

Just a thank you for the opportunity to connect with my American (*and Canadian) colleagues.

More about Maya:

Website: nero

Blog: nero blog

Facebook: NERO Nutrition Education Resources Online

Instagram: @nero_nutrition

Thanks Maya!