Tereza Vágnerová RD, MSc. et MSc. (Engineer)
for something nutrishus
I came across Tereza’s profile on Instagram and reached out to get the Czech Republic featured in the series as it’s interesting to learn the global similarities and differences in dietetics. She works in geriatric nutrition, but continues to educate herself and work for dietitians in the Czech Republic, it will be interesting to follow how international associations grow and support dietitians around the world.
Why did you become a RD?
It’s actually a funny story, because at first I wanted to be a veterinarian. My grandfather owned a small farm and I loved to take care of every single animal there, especially goats, cows and dogs. My grandmother used to call me “dog mum”. But at school I recognized, I’m not interested in zoology at all. I found myself interested in human nutrition, chemistry and biology. I started to think about being a doctor, and that’s why I worked every summer at high school as a keeper (nurse) at our regional hospital. There I first met a clinical RD and that was the moment I recognized I don’t want to be a doctor but a clinical dietitian.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I’m specialized generally in geriatric nutrition, especially nutrition issues in sarcopenia, geriatric frailty, palliative care, cachexia and wound healing. But I also co-work on a stroke unit (ICU), neurology and post-stroke rehabilitation department, which are closely connected to geriatrics.
How would you explain what you do?
I’m a clinical dietitian, my daily job is to screen for malnutrition in order to identify an existing nutrition risk in hospitalized population. When I find a patient at risk of malnutrition or malnourished (or with any nutritional problem) I do a diagnosis, assess the nutritional status and create a nutritional care plan. It may include just diet modification but also an indication of enteral or parenteral nutrition and of course close monitoring of treatment.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Malnutrition in the elderly population is very common. I think that for most dietitians taking care of elderly patients or working with the general hospitalized population (mostly elderly) is not very popular. But is really needs to be done. Populations around the whole world are getting old and I see it in my work every day. It is not an easy job, sometimes it’s hard to see your intervention not being efficient, but your mind has to stay clear and you have to stay in the same helping line.
What has been your career path?
I started as a freshly graduated dietitian at The General Faculty Hospital in Prague, especially in the Geriatric Department, later at The Stroke Unit - Rehabilitation Department. Nowadays I also co-work in the Neurology Department and neurologic ICU.
Last year I became an assistant professor at the Geriatric Clinic (The General University Hospital in Prague) and lecture in clinical nutrition at the First Faculty of Medicine (Charles University). I mostly teach dietitians but also future doctors on the subject Geriatric nutrition and I wrote a same-named teaching script (book).
I became a member of the executive committee at the Czech Association of Dietitians. I would like to continue improving the status of RDs and knowledge about (geriatric) nutrition in the Czech Republic with my friends from the association and keep teaching.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
At one of the best geriatric clinics in Prague my mentor, professor Topinková, taught me a lot, supported me and encouraged me to continue to study. I graduated soon after as an Engineer in food quality and safety at Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague and then with a MSc. – Dietitian with Specialization at Charles University in Prague, one of the best university in Czech Republic and the oldest university in middle Europe. Now I am continuing in a Ph.D. program on Preventive medicine and prof. Topinková is still my mentor.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Last year, my colleagues and I founded the Czech Association of Dietitians and we have big plans. We were able to join EFAD (European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians) this year, which is really great. We are supporting the improvement of food in hospitals, better nutritional care, public health, education and internships for RDs and continue raising general knowledge about nutrition. It will be a long way, but I hope we will be successful.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
That we are educated health care professionals, who are ready to help when it’s needed.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
In our country it is certainly education – we need to set the rules across the board, change legislation and increase competences for RDs.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
The power of nutrition in prevention and treatment.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
What is your favourite meal?
Shrimps! Not so typical for the Czech Republic :o)
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Look for a real nutrition specialist, be interested in nutrition and do not seek too much advice on the internet.
More about Tereza:
Czech Association of Dietitians: www.cant.cz