Interview with Mireille Najm, RD, MSc, IAAND Canada Country Representative

Interview with Mireille Najm, RD, MSc, IAAND Canada Country Representative

By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, CR Chairperson

This amazing Country Representative Mireille Najm amplifies the meaning of International Global Nutrition Expert whose work and passion has required her to travel to over 60 countries so far. This “Chief” of Clinical Nutrition Services at CIUSSS (Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et Services Sociaux) du Nord-de l’île de Montréal leads a team of more than 50 Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians (all of whom are unionized) in 3 major acute care and ultra-specialized multi-location hospital while serving as Co-chair of Clinical Nutrition Management (CNM) network at Dietitians of Canada. I was honored and in awe of this incredible professional woman who seems to do it all in addition to be our very own Canadian CR.

Meet Mireille Najm

International just begins to describe our Canadian CR Mireille Najm. Born in Lebanon, raised in Saudi Arabia and by 10 years old, a move to Montreal made her later officially Canadian. A Master’s Degree in International Nutrition led her to West Africa as a volunteer where she worked with a WHO Collaborating Center on Nutrition Changes and Development and educated other registered dietitians and university students on the double burden of malnutrition in Africa. In Burkina Faso, with Montreal University she helped introduce red palm oil in children’s daily school meal to prevent childhood blindness since it was a high source of vitamin A. Her previous work experiences also include quality assurance & food safety auditing for international providers of in-flight meals for Air Canada, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Northwest Airlines, British Airways and Japan Airlines and insuring IATA catering quality assurance and HACCP standards are followed by food providers

Mireille’s exposure to various cultures she says has made her a very flexible and adaptable person. Her experience as an alumni of the ‘12 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference helped her grow as a leader and gave her tools to create a positive work environment and tricks to better share information while accepting other leaders’ viewpoints graciously.

Being based in Montreal is a perfect backdrop to match her multicultural background, experiences and interests given that Montreal is a melting pot to more than 120 cultures.

In her “spare” time, Mireille leads a lifestyle that promotes healthy living while dedicating her personal time to activities such as running, spinning, yoga and tennis. She loves agrotourism, photography and learning a 4th and 5th language.

Country Health Issues Impacted by Nutrition

Canada has many of the same issues as Western cultures—heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

« Canada’s health care system is a group of socialized health insurance plans providing coverage to all Canadian citizens. It is funded and administered on a provincial or territorial basis, within guidelines set by the federal government. Canada’s health care system is also the subject of much political controversy and debate in the country. Some question the efficiences of the curent system to deliver treatments in a timely fashion, and advocate adopting a private system similar to the United States. Conversely, there are worries that privatization would lead to inequalities in the health system with only the wealthy being able to afford certain treatments. Regardless of the political debate, Canada does boast one of the highest life expectancies (about 80 years) and lowest infant morality rates of industrialized countries, which many attribute to Canada’s health care system (source : http://www.canadian-healthcare.org/) »

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2 educational steps to becoming a registered dietitian in Canada- you must meet both academic and practical experience requirements.

https://www.dietitians.ca/become-a-dietitian/education.aspx

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The dietetic profession is regulated in Canada, you must be a member of an order to practice as a dietitian and use the title reserved for it.  The title of “nutritionist” is also a reserved title in some provinces, including Quebec.

 For those who are interested in practicing in Canada you can visit:

Dietitians of Canada:
https://www.dietitians.ca

Like other health professionals, dietitians must register with the provincial regulatory body in their province in order to practice:

 

https://www.dietitians.ca/Become-a-Dietitian/Registration-to-Practice.aspx

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Opportunities where dietitians can practice in Canada:

  1. Clinical Nutrition

Dietitians working in the clinical nutrition sector assess the nutritional status of a person in order to determine a nutritional treatment plan to maintain or restore their health.

  • General Care Hospital or Acute care centers
  • Long-Term Care Housing Center
  • Rehab center
  • Private consulting office
  • Family Medicine Group / Family Medicine Unit
  • Local Community Service Centers
  • External clinic, multidisciplinary clinic
  • School backgrounds
  1. Public Health Nutrition

Dietitians working in the public health nutrition sector monitor and assess the needs of populations and communities and develop public policies that support healthy eating and health.

  • Public Health Agencies
  • Ministries
  • Health Centers in Aboriginal Communities
  • Universities
  • School boards
  • Medical Associations
  • Community organizations
  • Non-profit organizations
  1. Food industry and biopharmaceutical nutrition

Dietitians working in the agriculture and biopharmaceutical industry are involved in research and development, production activities, and product marketing strategies that enable consumers to be healthier.

  • Biopharmaceutical industry
  • Food industry
  • Producer, processor or distributor associations
  1. Food Service Management

Dietitians working in the food service management sector direct and manage the human, material, financial and informational resources of a food service.

  • Health establishments (hospitals, long-term care centers, rehabilitation centers, youth centers, etc.)
  • Educational institutions (including childcare settings)
  • Food services (workplace, catering, food support organization, etc.)
  • Consulting firms (operational studies, pre-feasibility studies, management studies, etc.)
  • Centralized production centers