My Experience as a Year In Industry Student

By Joel Tyler, BSc Physiological Sciences

Edited by Maddie Wildridge

Reckitt is a Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company with offices and employees spread out across the world. Founded in 1870, Reckitt started off by selling laundry starch in Hull, now, Reckitt operates in a range of markets and is the owner of various health and medicinal brands such as; Neurofen, Strepsils, Dettol, Vanish and Durex to name a few.

Examples of some Reckitt products sold around the world

My placement year was a lab-based role involved in working for the brand Veet, this included both formulation manufacturing and analytical testing for the depilatory cream products currently available to buy in shops as well as a new product being developed and to be released in the near future.

A Day in the Life

Using a Light Microscope to examine the structure of a hair sample

Due to the fast paced environment (as an FMCG company), I found that there was always something to do all the time and the days/weeks were fairly similar. This is because of the constant manufacturing of different formulations of new products to be tested under different stability conditions, and then followed by analytical testing of the formulations to identify which was the best product.

Therefore, my normal day would start with a team meeting to discuss where everyone was at with formulation/testing work and to discuss steps/processes going forward or if anything had failed/gone wrong with the batch. After, I would go to the lab to complete any formulation/analytical testing which needed to be done.

I enjoyed this working routine as it meant I gained far more lab experienced than I initially thought I would, it was always very clear what work I needed to be doing and I was always given lots of support if things ever went wrong. I would say I definitely wasn’t treated as a ‘student’ but a very integral part of the team which also surprised me!

Student Project
In the second half of my placement, I organised and created a project alongside my line manager which involved testing the tensile strength of hair using a texture analyser and a brand new test method. I also presented my results to the rest of the Veet brand to explain my findings.

Hair sample being tested in the Texture Analyser to investigate the tensile strength

During my project I had to test thousands of individual hair samples and as a result became the most experienced within the lab at using the texture analyser, this meant that I had the opportunity to present and perform samples to higher up executives within the company (and even the Global Head of R&D) which was an amazing experience.

A Becomix machine used to formulate and manufacture different depilatory creams during my placement year

Why I Chose To Do a Placement
I decided during first year of my degree that I wanted to do a placement, specifically a lab based placement, because I was enjoying being in the lab at university but I was curious if I would enjoy working in a lab as a full time job to give myself an idea for post graduate jobs.

Having completed my full year, I now know I could happily work in a lab after university, so applying for lab based roles isn’t a big risk but also that I know I can work efficiently and thrive under the environment. My placement gave me many challenges along the way (which is natural when learning new things in a short space of time) but I gained valuable and employable experience in overcoming these obstacles and realised that I feel confident within a lab setting.

I Would Highly Recommend a Placement!
Completing my placement year was definitely one of the most important things I have done within my life. The obvious reasons being all the different skills and attributes which I learnt/developed along the way, but also, the experiences which are available in just one year really surprised me, with the huge amounts of social networking needed to be done for my day to day job, I found myself naturally speaking to and shadowing other departments, creating professional relationships which will last for life. So I would say even if you are even considering to apply for placements, just go for it because you won’t regret it!

Day in the life of a Student Dietitian on Placement – Eating Disorders

Hi – it’s Georgia the Student Dietitian again! So on the last blog post I talked about what it was like to be on placement in a secure inpatient unit. I said I would also give some insight into my day in the life in an Eating Disorder unit – so here it is!

Background context – Eating Disorders is an umbrella term that can describe many different disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and others. The patients in my care ranged from 18 to 75 years old and covered all genders. There is lots of psychology often required within Eating Disorder services, so Dietitians work alongside other healthcare staff to provide a holistic form of care to patients. For my placement I worked across inpatient units (on a ward within a hospital), community, and day service. This gave me a really good insight into all of the different areas you could work in as a Dietitian in Eating Disorders.

The different types of services: So i mentioned that there are three different types of services. I am just going to explain a tiny bit about each one so that you are aware of the difference.

Inpatient services – This is where patients are on a ward and have their own rooms. They are monitored and supported 24/7 by staff and are sometimes allowed leave off the ward. Patients on these ward often get their weight and bloods monitored more often and can be put onto a feeding tube if necessary.

Community – This is a service which manages and supports Eating Disorder Patients within the comfort of their own homes. Dietitians will often visit patients where they live and provide advice and support around meal plans and cooking facilities etc.

Day service – Day service is a service which allows patients to attend a clinic for the whole day or half the day to have their meals and be supported by cooking for themselves. So patients tend to spend the whole day at the service and they will have supervised breakfast, lunch, dinner and 3 snacks. They are also supported to cook for themselves in order to mimic what it would be like for the patients at home.

My day to day experience:

As all of the services were very different, I unfortunately do not have enough writing room to describe all of these (plus I think you would probably get bored!). Therefore, here is a day in the life of a student on an inpatient ward….

Morning: I usually arrive at the hospital at 9am to prepare for the day. The Dietitians have their own office where they can produce resources, write up notes and host team meetings with other healthcare professionals. The start of the day I would usually read about on patient backgrounds and fill in my patient notes based on what I can already access (for example recent weights and blood results). I would then find out what diet plan they are currently on and assess whether this would need changing (diet plans are often progressed step by step to gradually increase intake). After this, I would then usually see around 2 patients for lunch to discuss their progress and come up with future action plans.

Afternoon: After the patients (and staff) have their lunch, we usually continue consultations with patients throughout the afternoon. We do have to be careful to not interrupt snack times however as this is obviously a very important part of their day. Often patients are very visibly upset during consultations as the last thing they want to discuss is food, so showing lots of empathy and understanding can really go a long way during these sessions. Again, my communication skills in this sector definitely developed further as it was very different to what I had learnt at Uni! After my consultation sessions, I would then make any changes to diet plans if this was necessary that day and would add this to the patient notes. I would then head home for a good sleep as I am usually very tired by the end of the day!

As always, if anyone has any questions about what it is like to do Dietetics and what placement is like, please leave a comment! Thank you 🙂

Day in the Life of a Student Dietitian on Placement

Hi everyone! My name is Georgia and I am a 4th year Dietetics Student. When people ask me ‘so what do you do?” I dread it, because the conversation normally goes like this: “I do Dietetics at University” “You do what now? I’ve never heard of that! Do you just tell people to not be fat?”.

So, in order to give a bit of an insight into what Dietitians do, I have decided to describe a day in the life whilst I am at placement! My placement is split into two sectors – Forensic Secure Inpatient Service and Eating Disorders. I am going to give you a bit of an overview of what it has been like in both, however I will do a separate post for my experience in Eating Disorders otherwise this could be quite a lengthy post!

Secure inpatient services

As the name suggests, Secure Inpatient Services is a hospital for people with mental health illnesses who have committed crimes. Rather than going to prison, people are admitted into a secure hospital for psychiatric treatment. You might think – “How does a Dietitian fit into a secure unit?” – I thought the same thing! The main role that I had during my time at this service was educational sessions regarding cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately in a service such as this, many patients are on antipsychotic medicines which can often have a significant side effect of weight gain. Due to this, many of the patients within this unit had a BMI of over 45 (for reference, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9).

So now I have provided some context, welcome to my day in the life!

Morning: I wake up at about 7:30 to make sure that I have time to have a proper breakfast and get prepared for the day. I then drive to the hospital and often join a team ‘huddle’ in the morning. Huddles are a meeting with all the Dietetics staff (including Nutritionists and Dietetic Assistants) to discuss how we are getting on with the patients and if we have any new referrals. After this meeting, I would then go down to the ward to see a patient for an education session. To get onto the ward you have to go through an airlock system with lots of security measures in place. Once on the ward, I would normally have an educational session regarding the consequences of high saturated fat and sugar intake on our cardiovascular health. Some patients who I was giving education sessions to were in ‘seclusion’, which is a separate room from everyone else that most people are not allowed to enter. This made communication fairly difficult, but it was a great learning curve!

Afternoon: After lunch, I would usually prepare for the patients that I was seeing that afternoon. I would read through all the patient notes to gather a background on the patient and produce any resources which I may need for the sessions. Many of the patients that I was working with could not read and the only resources we had available were lengthy written resources, so I spent a lot of time producing easy read, pictorial resources for patients which seemed to go down very well. After my sessions with the patients, I would then attend a basketball session with a patient with a BMI of 54 to encourage physical exercise. This was a great session as it also allowed the staff to participate and build rapport with the patients. I really enjoyed this! Finally, I would go back to the office and write up all of my notes from the patient consultations so that other health professionals can be aware of what we have discussed.

I would then tend to go home, cook something quick because I was tired and then watch Netflix until I fell asleep!

I hope you find this useful and if you have any questions please feel free to comment. I really enjoyed this placement and would recommend it to anyone doing Dietetics as you learn communication skills that you probably wouldn’t learn anywhere else. So if you get allocated this placement welcome it with open arms! You may love it like I did.

Placements – An overview of 3rd year Dietetics placements in the NHS.

Hi everyone! My name is Georgia and I am a third year Dietetics student currently on my B placement. I thought I would give an overview of what you can expect from your B placement on the Dietetics course – I hope you find it helpful!

How are placements allocated?

At the beginning of my third year, at around September time, we are all given forms to fill out which we can fill in our Trust preferences. So you don’t really choose your preferences based on location as you could be placed anywhere within a Trust. For example, I received my 2nd choice which was Tees, Esk and Wear Trust. I chose this trust as it is a Mental Health Trust, which was something I was super interested in! So I was excited to get started.

Where was I based?

A few months after receiving our Trust allocations, we were contacted by our placement supervisors to let us know where we would be based. I was allocated Roseberry Park in Middlesbrough (which is a forensic unit) and community eating disorders (so I was based in different areas around Teeside).

How did I feel about my allocations?

At first, when I realised that I was going to a forensic unit where people had committed crimes, I was nervous but also excited. I had no idea what a forensic Dietitian did or what the job would entail. I decided that it would probably be best for me to move to Middlesbrough so that I didn’t have to travel everyday. In hindsight I probably should have visited Middlesbrough before choosing my accommodation, however at least I can pass on this wisdom to the later years! So just to reiterate – please check out the accommodation that you are going to book in person before you book it!!

My experience in the Forensic Unit (Secure Inpatient Services)

As previously mentioned, I was so nervous to go but also so excited to see what it would be like. From the first day that I arrived, the staff were so friendly and made me feel at home within an hour. This was a really promising start and made me so relieved. I was nervous to meet the patients as I had never had any experience with people in prisons or secure units, however to my surprise everyone was so nice to me! We even had a Medieval fun day, which included games, a banquet and craft stalls. It was super fun and I would go back in a heartbeat! So the main takeaway from this experience is to never judge something before you try it – I could definitely imagine myself working in this sector in the future.

My experience in eating disorders

This was completely different to my previous placement in secure inpatient services (SIS). In SIS, the majority of the patients were overweight, some of who had BMIs over 40. Going from that to seeing patients with a BMI of 13 was a very dramatic change and took some getting used to. Again as this was predominantly community, it was very different again as I was hardly seeing the same patients twice. This made it slightly harder to build up the same kind of relationships with patients, but I think this will be the case no matter which sector you are in. All patients are different and that is all part of the learning experience! I think this is another benefit of having 2 different 6 week placements instead of one 12 week placement in one area.

What are my top tips for students starting placement?

I could go on and on about different tips I would give to students starting placement, so I will try and keep it quick. First, as previously mentioned I would definitely say don’t judge a sector before you try it. I had no idea what to expect from forensics and now I love it. Also, and I will say it again, check out the area that you are moving to before you move there! Placement can be hard so it is important to make sure you have a nice supportive environment for when you get home. Finally, make sure you get enough sleep because I won’t sugar coat it, placement is exhausting! You are constantly learning and meeting new people so making sure you prepare the best you can for the day will make all the difference.

So good luck with placements, and remember to not be so hard on yourself. The whole point of placement is to learn so don’t worry if you make mistakes. That is the reason you are there! Most importantly enjoy it and take on every opportunity you can.

If you are interested in studying Dietetics at Newcastle University make sure to check out this page: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/undergraduate/degrees/b401/

Why Study Abroad?

By Dr Carys Watts

Going abroad may be a week’s holiday, or to some it’s going global or for longer, but have you ever thought about studying abroad as part of your Newcastle University degree? You could study abroad for a few weeks or up to an entire year, and it could change your perspective forever.

‘I can honestly say it was the best time of my life’– Eleanor (semester at Monash University, Melbourne)

Did you know you can study language modules for free at Newcastle?

I’m not sure it is for me

So you may think of reasons why not to do it, but there are loads of great reasons to give it a try: Continue reading “Why Study Abroad?”

So your immune system’s an overachiever; what I’m doing about it during my placement at GSK

By Emma McCarthy

Hey, it finally worked!

I look at the screen and smile. After an intensive six-hour lab session involving lots of careful pipetting, I’m ecstatic that the experiment I’ve spent weeks on has succeeded at last.

At the moment, I’m based in a biology research unit at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies on the planet. I’ve been on placement here for over nine months; I still can’t quite believe it some days.

Continue reading “So your immune system’s an overachiever; what I’m doing about it during my placement at GSK”

My summer research really ‘complemented’ my degree

By Sam Murray – 3rd Year Biomedical Sciences student

Vacation Research Project

During the summer I worked alongside scientists in the Institute of Cellular Medicine in Newcastle University to complete a 8-week research project in Complement Immunology, and was paid £200 a week to do so! I produced a poster to communicate my research and defended it at the university wide Celebrating Research Scholarships & Expeditions presentation evening. I was awarded a Commendation for oral defence of the poster and also won 3rd prize at the School of Biomedical Sciences Summer placement poster presentations. Continue reading “My summer research really ‘complemented’ my degree”

My Summer of Brains

By Libby Finnigan, Stage 3 Biomedical Sciences Student.

Day 1 of my summer project

After a very rainy 45-minute trek into Fenham to the Campus for Ageing & Vitality, I was feeling a little lost and unsure of what to expect from my very first day of placement. Of course, that all changed once I met my supervisor, Dr Kirsty McCaleese. 

Kirsty certainly did not strike me as the stereotypical white-coated mad scientist (well, at least not fully mad!). Honestly, she is one of a kind and I feel eternally grateful for each lesson she taught me, not just in on the project but for life in general. Continue reading “My Summer of Brains”