Hi everyone, my name is Nicole and I am a post grad dietetics student at Chester University. Before starting my dietetic journey, I was a trained pastry chef but, I will get more into that when I discuss why I chose a dietetic career. A massive thank you to Emma for allowing me to share my experience and a merry Christmas everyone.
What inspired you to study dietetics?
At school I was a devout science nerd, I went on to study all the sciences and maths at A level, wow was it hard! I then decided to leave after a few months it was not for me, and I went to train as a pastry chef as my other passion was cooking. I trained for 2 years and this time I completed my training phew! This career still didn’t feel right for me following multiple bad experiences in the cheffing world in the Manchester Town Hall, and working for free for over 3 months in a wedding cake shop – top tip don’t work for free value your time! I was so lost at this time and thought about studying nutrition at Manchester Met and spent an amazing 3 years there. I found my place; this career has both science and food I couldn’t be happier. I then went on to shadow dietitians in the North West and got a place on the PGDIP course at Chester University
What work experience have you done and/or can recommend in order to apply for dietetics?
Getting into dietetics is very competitive, this doesn’t mean you can’t make it. The more you can do the better, you may think you do these things for the interview or to get noticed but you don’t realise how much these experiences help shape you as a person and develop your skills. I worked for MetMUnch a student led enterprise at MMU for 3 years where I engaged with a diverse team to deliver nutrition workshops, cooking videos, child education and events. I also went on to volunteer in an NHS rehabilitation care home which I would advise to definitely get this on your list of must dos this could also include a Hospice. Volunteering there exposes you to really poorly people and helps you gain both emotional strength and empathy. Get as much dietetic shadowing as you can, send a professional email asking for shadowing it may take a while for them to get back to you as they have students on official placements at certain times of year. Do not take it personally if they can’t accommodate you or don’t reply keep trying elsewhere someone will give you a chance. When applying to the university mention all the specifications in your personal statement and don’t forget to make it personal it’s about you remember, they want to know fun things to not just extra-curricular activities, Emma taught me this top gal!
How has studying changed since the pandemic began?
I never thought I would have to study at home, hence why I didn’t chose the open university, I’m a very sociable person and love being around my friends. At Chester our cohort was so close, in fact we were only a small knit of people 16! When we were told we had to go home as university was shutting due to Coronavirus, I was worried. My first NHS placement at MRI Childrens Hospital was cancelled and I was gutted and worried about how I will replace the skills I missed out on. We were also taught on Microsoft Teams for 6 months. Whilst it sometimes didn’t go smoothly, I was grateful for the change in exams and assessments we got more time and our exams changed to open book which reduced the pressure massively.
Working at Bolton hospital in the pandemic has been a massive challenge its hard to see the effect of COVID-19 on people’s lives and the impact of the lockdown on patient’s health. Although apprehensive about starting placement during a global pandemic I was happy to have something to get up for in the morning, to get out the house and see other people! I felt that I grew emotionally and was able to step up and help others to the best of my ability I can’t thank the NHS frontline workers enough for all they have done for society. Whilst the pandemic has been tough the NHS is now getting ready to give out the new vaccine which is the best possible news.
What are your goals for the future?
It’s a tough question, I hope the future sees a corona free world where we can all interact again but ill never forget the opportunity this pandemic has given me to value my family and friends and to pause life. I hope to become a qualified dietitian and work for the NHS as a band 5 and then move on to specialise either in neurology, renal or surgery. I hope to buy my first home with my partner and start a little family. We also had to cancel our Disney world Florida holiday, but I rebooked it so hopefully we don’t miss out this time! My main goal is always to be happy and to have a fulfilling long career as a dietitian helping as many patients as I possibly can.
Do you have any tips for fellow COVID students during this time?
Yes, speak to someone if you are struggling this pandemic has affected everyone is so many different ways please reach out if you need help no matter how small you think it is. Look after yourself take time to relax and practise self-care, that could mean a pamper day at home, a healthy meal, a glass of wine or a chat with friends take care of you so you can help others. Keep active, I know its one of the hardest things and I am not keen on exercise myself but try get out for a little walk each day it helps clear your mind and has a multitude of benefits. Online learning can be stressful, and it is not the same, make sure to take breaks from you screen. It always helps to make a plan for the semester knowing when your assignments/exams are due in and what’s expected of you, take it one day at a time and reward your progress. Remember, this pandemic is the ‘new normal’ at present but it will soon be returning back to the normal we had pre-pandemic, try to stay positive and be thankful for each day.
Thank you so much Nicole for sharing your journey so far, you will make a fabulous dietitian!