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Mastering Intensive Care 069 with Emma Ridley

Advocacy, communication and leadership as an ICU dietitian – Mastering Intensive Care 069 with Emma Ridley

Dr Emma Ridley is a Senior Research Fellow and a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre (ANZIC-RC) at Monash University in Melbourne, where she leads the Nutrition Program.

Emma has 16 years of clinical dietetic experience, including as a senior dietitian in the ICU at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, and over 13 years of research experience, including the awarding of her PhD. Her research interests include energy requirements across the hospitalisation period, the clinical application of indirect calorimetry and the effect of optimal nutrition delivery on short and long-term outcomes in ICU patients.

Emma is a long-time colleague of mine, someone I have huge respect for, and a woman that seems to fit a lot into a busy life and career. I was keen to talk to Emma for the podcast so I could ask about topics such as how she sees dietitians best fitting into the ICU team, what her thoughts are on communication between different ICU staff roles and what is required for a dietitian to be a valuable advocate for ICU patient nutrition. Emma also has some important insights from the difficult experience of having her recently newborn son admitted to the NICU.

This episode is not just for dietitians. Emma is such a wise and thoughtful healthcare leader that there are pertinent perspectives in this conversation that will help doctors, nurses and practitioners in any Intensive Care role. The list of topics Emma discussed include:

  • How she became a dietitian in Intensive Care
  • Her reflections on the pace of an ICU
  • The importance of dietitian and doctors understanding each others “language”
  • How she feels dietitian best fit into the ICU team
  • Advocating for ICU patient nutrition at the bedside
  • The importance of dietitians being present at the ICU ward round
  • Working with the different members of the ICU team
  • Optimal communication between colleagues
  • The importance of getting to know your colleagues
  • Talking to patients and their families
  • Why she was fascinated by research and how this has helped her clinical practice
  • Why she feels research allows her to have a greater impact
  • The benefits of embedding nutrition research in an ICU
  • Her interest in nutrition at the time when ICU patients are transitioning out of the ICU
  • The differences between leadership, mentorship and sponsorship
  • The effects of the pandemic on her role
  • Her work to assist nutrition for critically ill patients with COVID
  • Managing personal safety and wellbeing during the pandemic
  • The experience of her newborn son being admitted to the NICU
  • Fitting everything in to a busy life
  • The value of work flexibility and how this affects her clinical work capacity
  • Her closing advice to less experienced ICU practitioners


Links to other resources (in order of mentioning)

Further reading and listening
Dr Andrew Davies LITFL Mastering Intensive Care

Dr Andrew Davies MBBS FRACP FCIC. Intensivist/researcher at Frankston Hospital, Melbourne. Aiming to bring my best self to work & life. | Mastering Intensive Care | New Normal project |

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