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Elizabeth Wilson (right) 1957

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Elizabeth Wilson (right) 1957 Elizabeth Wilson  (standing centre) 1964 (Left) Giving dietary advice, 1974
Elizabeth Wilson, 2007
 
 
Interview 65 Elizabeth Wilson

Dietitian
Born in Blackridge, West Lothian in 1925.


Overview: Elizabeth Wilson trained at the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science and then taught for six years at a school in Leith. In 1952, she heard that dietetics was `an up-and-coming profession` and embarked on an eighteen-month training course in the School of Dietetics at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. From 1954 to 1958 she was a ‘Social Dietitian`, working in the Infirmary`s diabetic clinics in the mornings and doing home visits in the afternoons. She was the Infirmary`s Chief Dietitian from 1964 to 1979, before becoming District Dietitian, responsible for six hospitals including the Infirmary, from 1979 until she retired in 1985.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 23 May 2007

 Short samples

1 When she began work in the 1950s, all food was weighed and diets were very strict. Scottish patients found it particularly difficult to change from their normal way of eating. [ 51 secs ]

2 Early dietitians were all nurses - and long after they were no longer required to have a nursing qualification, they continued to be responsible to the Matron. But later they became equal members of a team. [ 59 secs ]

 
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01 Private schooling – half-time during war. Mother teacher, father commercial traveller.
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02 Teacher training, Edinburgh College of Domestic Science. War-time – few ingredients. Taught 6 years in Leith. Then School of Dietetics, Royal Infirmary, 1952. Original dietitians were nurses – this course open to others. 1 year theory, 6 months practical. Only hospital-based course.
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03 Theory – class of 9. Lab work. Practical – outpatients, mainly diabetic; diet kitchen; maternity. 1954 – daily clinics, no appointment system.
Employers reluctant to employ diabetics.
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04 Sister dietitian ran department, 2 other dietitians – one social, whom I succeeded later. Patients liked familiar face – I worked there 31 years. Patients weighed, urine tested, saw dietitian, then doctor. Professor was Derrick Dunlop. We gave talks to W.I. etc.
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05 Patients travelled – few diabetic clinics. Children went to Sick Children`s Hospital, then to us. Insulin plus diet or diet alone. Those needing insulin admitted.
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06 Inpatients taught urine-testing & diet. Food weighed. Scottish don`t eat fruit & vegetables or brown bread.
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07 Insulin patients given scales to weigh food at home.
Worked in ward diet kitchen - took food to patients.
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08 No menu choice. Better than now – sister adjusted portions to appetite & orderlies helped those unable to feed themselves.
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09 After training, became ‘social dietitian` – morning clinics, afternoon home visits. Explained no need to cook separately for diabetic. Discussed shift-working.
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10 Home visits on 3 days, evening clinic Tuesdays; Thursday visits to hospital clinics elsewhere. (Only diabetic clinics on east coast – Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen.) Abandoned home visits when clinics became too busy.
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11 Changes – Lente insulin. Tablets introduced, 1955 - patients changed from insulin to Chlorpropamide. 1959 – biguanides. Diet strict re sugar & starch but not re protein & fats. Patients found diet hard. Leslie Duncan ran department – foreign doctors came to learn.
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12 1964 – became Chief Dietitian – first Infirmary dietitian who wasn`t nurse. 1964-79 changes - patients educated to adapt insulin to urine test results; blood test at clinic; chiropody; eye test in clinic; portions replaced weighing.
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13 1979 – appointed District Dietician - 6 hospitals. Still at Infirmary – diabetes main interest.
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14 Main change by 1985 – from post-war restrictions to later freedoms. Adapted diet to lifestyle e.g. football.
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15 Gave diet sheet, exchange list, cookery demonstrations. Carbohydrate restricted, proteins & low calorie foods unrestricted.
Dietitian part of team. At first responsible to matron & wore uniform – legacy of when dietitians were nurses.
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