Amy Staite, highly specialist paediatric cardiology dietitian

Can you describe what you do day-to-day? Amy Staite

I predominantly work on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and High Dependency Unit (PHDU), where the sickest babies and children at Royal Brompton are.

My job is to make sure that our patients get the nutrition they need after they have had heart surgery, to help support their recovery. Often my patients can’t eat or drink, so they are fed via a tube in their nose or mouth or are given nutrition directly into their blood if their gut isn’t working properly. I work out how much nutrition each patient needs and I help to troubleshoot if there are any issues with food tolerance (this is when food is not absorbed properly causing bloating and sickness). 

As our patients start to recover, I work closely with other members of the multidisciplinary team, such as Speech and Language Therapy (SLT), to help re-establish eating without the need for a tube and to optimise growth. We can then continue this rehabilitative work in a Feeding Clinic when patients are discharged home.

What do you like most about your job?

Many of our patients find oral feeding (whether by breast or bottle) very hard before they have their heart repaired, so it’s amazing to see the progress that they often make after surgery. Being able to wean a patient from their feeding tube when they have been dependent on it for a long time is so rewarding! 

Which part of your job is most challenging?

PICU can be quite a challenging environment to work in generally, as you are working with parents and carers that are understandably often very anxious and under a lot of stress. Building a good relationship and trust is so important so that they know their child is in good hands.

What is the best/funniest thing a patient has ever said to you?

One of my patient’s parents told me that a new feeding plan we came up with together changed their life! It really makes you feel like you are making a difference.

Why did you decide to work in healthcare?

I’ve always had a keen interest in science, as well as general health and fitness. I knew that I wanted a job where I would have lots of interaction with people and where I could really make a difference, so working as a healthcare professional was a great option for me!