The Interviews: Diabetes and Dietetics with Sarah Carney

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Carney (@didyouknowimdiabetic) and I currently live in Dublin, Ireland! I’ve always been interested in food and disease and after developing Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 15, I wanted to learn more about how nutrition impacted my condition. This leads me to study BSc. Human Nutrition in University College Dublin (UCD) where I have recently graduated and have received the title of a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) with the Association for Nutrition (AFN). I am also a creative nutrition intern for @Nutribytes_LTD where I make interactive content on a range of different nutrition topics! Recently, I have just started my journey as an RD2B where I am doing an MSc. Dietetics with Ulster University!

1. What is your favourite thing about being an RD2B?

My favourite thing about being an RD2B is the incredible amount of support from other student dietitians, registered dietitians and other accredited nutritionists! People in this area are so helpful and inspiring and I love getting to see some of the work and research that other nutrition professionals do on a day to day basis!

2. What inspired you to study dietetics?

Ever since I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I wanted to pursue a career in dietetics. The dietitians that thought me the necessary carb counting skills to manage my diabetes were so friendly and compassionate and I saw these similar qualities in me. I also love food, science, health, disease, and working with people so dietetics was the perfect career for me!

3. Do you feel having T1DM provides you with a deeper understanding and empathy when it comes to working with fellow diabetes patients?

Yes, I definitely think that by having T1DM it helps me to relate to other people who have diabetes since I can relate to the same issues as them such as an understanding of how burdensome itis to weigh and count carbs all the time, annoying high & low blood sugars, and all the extra planning of daily life activities when having diabetes. During my degree, I undertook 10 months of Professional Work Experience (PWE) in a clinical setting in a paediatric hospital where I got loads of shadowing experience within diabetes clinics (especially toddler clinics). It was lovely to chat with the toddler’s parents and relate to the daily struggles and stresses that diabetes has on them and their child!

4. What are your aims and plans for the future?

My aims for the future are to finish my intensive 20-month masters and to potentially publish my master’s dissertation in a nutrition journal (fingers crossed!).

I have many plans for the future! First, I plan to gain some clinical experience within a hospital or community setting! I also plan to potentially set up a diabetes clinic with other registered dietitians/nutritionists who also have diabetes (T1DM/T2DM) since I think if the nutrition professional can almost fully relate to other people with diabetes it can increase the relationship between patients/clients! I also plan to conduct research in the area of Type 1 Diabetes and Intuitive Eating (IE) since only one study has been conducted in the area!

5. What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for dietetics?

-Speak to other nutritional professionals including Associate and Registered Nutritionists to see if you are more suited to the nutrition side of things (e.g. Public Health Promotion, research, etc) or if you a more suited to the clinical side of things (e.g. Student Dietitians & Registered Dietitians) just to be sure you are choosing the right path!

-If you can, ask to shadow a dietitian that you know in your area or keep an eye on your local hospital websites to see if they are offering any dietetic open days. Here you get to discover the day to day work of a dietitian and see the amount of variety that the job offers!

-If you’re like me coming from a background in Human Nutrition and you have the chance to do a PWE, I would recommend choosing a clinical placement as this will give shadowing opportunities with dietitians in a range of clinical areas. This experience really stands to you when it comes to writing personal statements for post-graduate courses in dietetics.

-Examples, examples, examples….Give examples of your experiences in your personal statement as well as any interviews that you might get invited to! For example, look up the core values of the NHS and see if you have applied any of these values within a past experience in nutrition or in any other area. This will show the interviewer that you have an understanding of these values.

Thank you so much for taking part, Sarah! That was super insightful and a lot of helpful tips for prospective students.

I hope you are enjoying the interviews so far, there’s many many more interesting stories to come!

Emma x

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