By Millie Elcock and Cerys Francis-Garside.
Hi everyone! We are first year students on Newcastle’s brand new 4 year Masters of Dietetics programme. Hopefully, this blog post will help you understand what dietetics is all about, the application process and reasons to get excited about dietetics.
What a year to start university, with all our lectures and seminars online! We are yet to go on campus or meet our course mates in person but hopefully that will change soon. Learning virtually can be challenging and frustrating but as it is all we know, we are discovering there are actually many advantages to studying online and certain aspects that we would like to continue such as the recorded lectures that allow us to go at our own pace.
Before we talk more about what we’re doing now, perhaps we should take you back to the beginning and explain why we chose to study dietetics.
Firstly, one of the main reasons for choosing dietetics was a love for food and cooking, and trying new foods and experimenting with them. This love for food then developed into an interest around the effect of food on health; how food can be used to maximise health by focusing on the food’s macro- and micro-nutrient content. The combination of food and its relation to health is what a dietetics degree is all about, and translating the science into advice is a key role of a Dietitian.
Furthermore, there is an overwhelming amount of ‘nutrition advice’ on social media and online, which can easily be misleading, so having the knowledge and qualifications to be able to know fact from fiction is a huge advantage. Dietitians must cut through all of the misinformation on the internet, and work only with the facts. Even an interest in nutrition will lead family and friends to your door, asking about their diets!
This passion for food and health led us to apply for the course. The application process appeared daunting but, if you take it step by step, it’s not as bad as you may first think! Gaining work experience in dietetics was difficult as opportunities to get into hospitals were limited. We both had different experiences with this:
I, Millie, managed to arrange an afternoon shadowing a dietitian in a hospital which was really insightful and allowed me to see how they deliver their care and how they convey information, that could be quite confusing, to patients in an easy and efficient manner. I also attended a dietetic awareness day which highlighted the different areas a Dietitian can specialise in.
Dietitians are always interested in getting more people into the profession, so for me, Cerys, having a conversation with a Dietitian really consolidated for me that this was what I wanted to do. Any experience you can gain in a health or social setting will be useful in applying, or considering whether you enjoy this kind of work.
The interview process was a good chance to meet fellow candidates and gave us one of our first opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, which was actually really enjoyable. The staff members interviewing were all very friendly and welcoming, which will help to make you feel more relaxed. The lecturers are just trying to see if you are the right fit for the course and the university. Don’t forget, you should also be seeing if you think it is the right fit for you.
Looking back now, it seems like a long time ago all of the panic in applying but it was definitely all worth it as the degree programme has been very engaging and sparked our interest in dietetics even more. We are currently in week 8 of teaching and we are doing 4 modules simultaneously which gives us variation in what we are learning from the Human Organ Systems to DNA to Macro- and Micro-nutrients. The first weeks of teaching have developed our interest and also reinforced the fact that a keen interest in science is just as important as an interest in food!
A degree in dietetics could take you down so many career paths; research, acute care, or in the community. Each of those areas are diverse and varied in their own ways too. Dietetics is an exciting field to enter, with so much to learn and our knowledge being able to help so many. After all, everyone eats!