Emily Walters

Emily Walters

What made you apply to the position of BANS Chair?

I was volunteering as secretary for BANS (British Artificial Nutrition Survey) when the role of Chair became vacant, so I already knew the committee members and had some understanding about BANS activities. This, alongside ‘encouragement’ from colleagues and an option to share the chair role, gave me the push to apply!

What have you learnt in your role?

So many things! Probably my main learning has been that voluntary submission, collection and analysis of ‘big data’ relating to enteral nutrition is hard! Since I’ve been in post we’ve had to completely revise the way we collect and report on enteral data, as the existing system had become outdated. Finding an effective way forward is an ongoing challenge, requiring a creative approach to problem solving and perseverance. This has resulted in BANS pursuing opportunities to work more collaboratively with BAPEN groups and members, with the first joint report from BANS and PENG published earlier this year. The BANS co-chair role also comes with a place on the Executive Committee. Initially I felt a bit daunted about this but I now really enjoy it. The Exec team is great, and I have learnt a lot about how a charity is run and the different parts of BAPEN and its activities. I also get involved in some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work which is really interesting.

How do you think the BAPEN team work together?

I think we work pretty well together! The BAPEN team is a friendly group and I enjoy our meetings and working together. I feel that communication and understanding between Core Groups, Standing Committees, Trustees and the Exec Committee has really improved. Virtual meetings have certainly supported this, helping with attendance and easier discussions about BAPEN activities. We have also seen strong leadership from our President which has helped to bring the different components of BAPEN together as a more effective as a team.

Can you tell us a bit more about the pre-registration students’ placement you ran recently?

We began working with Kings College London in January 2020, providing pre-registration dietetic placements. These are required for qualification and HCPC registration as a dietitian. BAPEN provides a virtual placement for three weeks, which have been well received by students, the university and BAPEN colleagues. The two placements this year focused on BAPEN engagement with pre-registration healthcare professionals, with some great results. The first cohort undertook a survey to better understand pre-registration healthcare professionals’ knowledge about malnutrition and how BAPEN can support them in developing this. This provided some interesting insights and their report really impressed the Trustees and Executive team. I am delighted that these pre-reg dietitians went on to submit an abstract for BAPEN Conference (2022) about this work and will be presenting at one of the poster sessions. I’m really proud of them!

The second cohort developed and launched the BAPEN_prereg Instgram account. This pilot is a really exciting development which we hope to make a permanent feature of BAPEN engagement. A couple of our pre-registration dietitians will be attending BAPEN Conference 2022 to live stream and post about their experiences and learning. Next year we will be expanding our placements to also take pre-registration dietitians from the University of East Anglia so watch this space!

What do you most enjoy about your role within BAPEN?

There are lots of things I enjoy, but if I were to pick three it would be working with great people, making a difference and having new and sometimes unexpected opportunities. I have been involved in projects and activities which I would never have imagined being able to do a couple of years ago!

How do you balance your work/home life with your BAPEN commitments?

This is a tricky one! Being really clear about expectations and BAPEN tasks is helpful, as is agreeing realistic timelines within the context of other commitments. Working with BAPEN team members rather than in isolation also helps to share the work and achieve a better balance. However, BAPEN work does ebb and flow, with unexpected issues, activities or opportunities occurring, so flexibility and adjusting priorities is necessary. Also learning to sometimes say no or ask for help means the boundaries around different aspects of my life are more likely to remain in place – well, most of the time!

Why do you think people should get involved with BAPEN?

There are so many reasons to get involved! However, I would first like to dispel the myth that you need to be in a senior post or a national expert to become involved with BAPEN. You really don’t as our pre-registration dietitians’ have shown. Volunteering with BAPEN is great for new opportunities, personal growth and development. These can contribute to your CPD and of course add to your CV. You also get to meet new people, expanding your network of people with shared clinical interests. Finally, BAPEN is run by volunteers so needs volunteers to continue! Why not get in touch to find out how you can get involved with this great charity?