Interview with Emily Spees, RDN
UK Jordan Country Representative
By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, CR Chairperson
As a native of a Washington DC area suburb, Emily never thought that a summer job as a camp counselor would lead her to the man of her dreams, Matthew a “visiting” counselor from Scotland who would lead her to a new life in Glasgow, Scotland where she has resided for the past 1 ½ years.
Meet Emily Spees
With a BS in Nutritional Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University; and a Dietetic Internship at Syracuse University, previous experience with the Food Bank of Central New York, nursing homes and hospitals, Emily currently works as a Clinical Dietitian with NHS Tayside with a special interest in medicine for the elderly. She works primarily in the stroke unit with follow up support she provides after patients are discharged.
As our UK CR she overseas not one but 4 countries—Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council, the “CDR” of Scotland and the British Dietetic Association.
Country Health Issues & Challenges Impacted by Nutrition
“Scotland is a cake culture” biscuits morning day and night are available at the office, on every street corner, for snacks and even offered to recovering stroke hospital patients by visitors. This is one of the contributing factors to a steady climb in obesity, diabetes and cardiac disease. Whisky drinking is also a favorite pastime and contributing factor.
On the other hand, there is balance with exercise since atleast Scotland has a cycling culture, green spaces and parks are abundant. When the sun shines, everyone takes advantage of the fresh air. Scotland also has great local produce which is some of the best and freshest I’ve ever had.
What are new Scottish foods, seasoning, rituals and recipes you have found most interesting, tasty and/or unusual?
Hands down, Sunday roasts are Emily’s favorite! A traditional time to gather with friends and family to enjoy massive amounts of food such as roast chicken, potatoes, veg and drinks – and share stories and fun.
Another favorite of Emily is fish and chips. Although not very healthy, nothing beats a good chippy, especially when eaten out of newspaper wrapping by the sea!
One thing Emily says she has found the most interesting/unusual meals is haggis, nips, and tatties. As one of the most traditional Scottish meals, haggis includes sheep’s heart, liver and lungs prepared with onion, oatmeal, and spices boiled in a sheep’s stomach. While it may not sound like it would be tasty, it is delicious! Served with mashed potatoes (tatties), and turnips (nips), it is a yummy meal Emily enjoys.
What inspired you to become involved with IAAND?
Moving overseas inspired Emily to connect with colleagues, learn more about the opportunities for dietitians in her new country and become involved with global nutrition concerns.
If a student or dietitian moves to the UK, what educational certifications licenses, work permits etc. are required, available etc.
In order to work as a dietitian in the UK, one must be registered with the HCPC. There is an application form online to fill out which requires references, educational curriculum, etc that must be submitted to the HCPC who then make a decision. If they believe the applicant’s qualifications are sufficient, then they can become registered.
A visa is also required to work in the UK. In order to get a work visa, a company must sponsor you, however there are other visas which allow you to work (such as a marriage visa, partner visa, etc.)
What is your personal philosophy on food and nutrition?
“When it comes to nutrition, there is no one size fits all; everyone has different needs and preferences and you need to find what works best for you. Food and eating should be an enjoyable experience, and not something to be feared – progress is the goal, not perfection!”