Inspirational Story

Bianca Tharme-Loose

Name: Bianca Tharme-Loose

Role: Specialist Gasteroenterology Dietitian at Leeds Teaching Hospital

Where did you study? I studied Nutrition and Dietetics in London which was a 4 year degree. Prior to my degree I had worked as an NHS dental nurse.

Pronouns: She/Her

What was it about Dietetics that made you want to pursue this career? Did your disability influence your decision?

As a result of my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which is a connective tissue disorder, I developed gastroparesis and ultimately required tube feeding on more than one occasion. As part of my treatment I was offered a gastric pacemaker which at the time was quite a new procedure. Ultimately, because of my EDS and its impact on me, I became very interested in diet and its effect on the body.

Furthermore I came across the profession as my Auntie had a successful career as a dietitian, she was a clinical dietetic manager of a private hospital in Manchester, so dietetics had been on my radar for a while.

In addition I’d worked in my previous role as a dental nurse and have always enjoyed working in a clinical environment and healthcare setting.



What was it like studying to be a Dietitian? Were there any challenges along the way?

Yes absolutely, unfortunately I had a couple of surgeries during studying. On one occasion, I even had to go to an exam with a cannula in my arm and as the exam fell mid treatment!

I defiantly had more time off than most, and I had to make up a week at the end of placement to support me in achieving the required number of placement hours. At times it really appeared insurmountable, and I remember thinking I’m not going to get through placement and pass my degree. Unfortunately I got admitted to A&E weeks before the end of my final clinical placement but luckily I made up the extra weeks following my admission to ensure I passed placement.

I was lucky that my university were very helpful with supporting me on placement and liaised with my placement provider who was supportive and accommodated my needs. As an example, they placed me on wards close by to one another to limit walking, they were flexible with my start times and understanding of any time off I required for hospital appointments.

I was allowed to take medications and water bottles on to the wards with me which all in all made life a bit easier.


I really believe that disabled dietitians or dietitians with long term conditions can still add value to patient care and have a lot to offer

What has your career looked like so far?

I started my career at Leeds General Infirmary in the general medicine team. I then moved sites to cover general medicine and care of the elderly at St James University Hospital.


What is your current role?

I always knew I wanted work in gastroenterology even as a student and luckily got a band 5 in the gastroenterology team and then my band 6 post where I’ve remained since.


What do you do day to day? Does your disability impact on your role?

Since the pandemic, I received the shielding letter pretty much from the first week they were all sent out as I’m classed as extremely clinically vulnerable as a result of my connective tissue disorder and owing to that have developed a few autoimmune conditions.

The combination of my EDS and the pandemic, has meant that my role has changed from approximately 70% ward based and running a couple of outpatient clinics, to now focusing 100% on outpatient clinics as I can do this via the phone from my own home. As things have changed during the pandemic, I now come into the office twice a week. I much prefer to be part of the ward environment and seeing patients face to face.

I treat patients with all manner of digestive issues including irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance to name a few.


Any advice for someone who may be considering a career as a Dietitian who has a disability or long term condition?

It’s certainly had its challenges working fulltime with several conditions and all the unpleasant symptom that come with that, but I really feel my empathy skills have developed and hopefully my communication skills are good as I empathise a lot with feeling unwell and having lots of different treatments.

I think appropriately sharing my experience with tube feeding has been helpful with patients.  I really believe that disabled dietitians or dietitians with long term conditions can still add value to patient care and have a lot to offer.

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