Gemma Laxina loves food so much she has built a career around it for the last 18 years.
“I love food. I love baking. So I took nutrition,” said Gemma. “I have never had any other career than this. In the Philippines, it is our culture to choose healthcare because it is one of the best options to work abroad. And I really wanted to work abroad.”
Gemma moved to Canada in 2007, having worked as a registered dietitian at a hospital in the Philippines. She arrived with her qualifications, her husband and two young children, and her dreams.
“Back home, nutritionist and dietitian mean the same thing. In Canada, they are different,” she explains. “I had my accredited qualifications from the Philippines, along with my MBA and some units for my PhD. But my hands-on experience was not enough to fulfill Canadian standards, and I had to undergo a lot of assessments.”
Gemma started her career journey with Sienna in 2008. “I worked as a dietary aide at Woodbridge Vista Care Community. My first paycheck paid for the processing of my assessment paper for the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management.”
She went on to become a part-time supervisor at Tullamore and Cheltenham care communities, but needed a placement to meet certain competencies and become a registered dietitian in Canada. Gemma saw a job vacancy for a full-time supervisor’s position at Woodhall Park, which was shared with Silverthorn Care Community. She applied, and was successful.
She obtained her dietitian license in 2013, and secured her current position at Trillium Retirement and Care Community as a dietitian/food services supervisor. In this role, she ensures residents meet their nutritional needs.
I am very satisfied and happy, and have found my home in Kingston,” Gemma said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice and perseverance to get where you want to be. It’s about finding good people who are committed and support you to reach your goals.”
And she certainly did that. Gemma is now a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, Dietitians of Canada, and Canadian Society of Nutrition Management.