An important role in the road to recovery

This is Claire's story

Claire Davis graduated in BSc (Hons) Dietetics in 2013 at Plymouth and has since gained experience in a variety of roles at hospitals in the South West and London. 

Claire is now a Band 7 Specialist Head and Neck Dietitian for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, based at Derriford Hospital.

"From early on in my degree course I developed an interest in dietetics and oncology – how important the role of the dietitian is for patients going through intensive treatments and to their recovery."

Gathering experience after graduation

"After graduating, I worked as a Dietetic Assistant in Truro. Once I had received my HCPC registration, I moved to Poole Hospital to begin a role as a Band 5 Dietitian. This was a split role, working three days a week supporting the Specialist Head and Neck Dietitian and the remaining two days in the community.

“I then had the opportunity to move to London to begin a position as a Band 6 Oncology Dietitian at North Middlesex Hospital. After two years working in London, I returned to the South West after I was offered my current position at Derriford Hospital, as a Band 7 Specialist Head and Neck Dietitian.”

Aerial view of Derriford Hospital, John Bull Building (PUPSMD) and Plymouth Science Park

It is a rewarding career

“While working at North Middlesex Hospital I had the opportunity, alongside the Band 7 Oncology Dietitian, to set up and run an oncology dietetic service for both inpatients and outpatients. This was exciting because previously there had been only very limited dietetic input for these patients."

"We were funded by Macmillan Cancer Research and were given the remit to build the service in order to improve patient care. Over time we were able to develop and expand both the service and the dietetic team, which was a very rewarding experience.”

“One of the most difficult things is helping patients and their family members to cope with news that their treatment is no longer working and their disease has progressed to a point where only palliative treatment is recommended." 

"Often I have got to know these patients and their families over a long period of time and it is difficult to remain unemotional, while at the same time being a support to them.”

"I look back on my time at Plymouth as a time of enjoyment and personal development. Although the course was very challenging, it enabled me to pursue a career I feel passionate about and I will always be grateful for the support and encouragement I received during my degree course."

Dietetics kitchen facilities at our Peninsula Allied Health Centre

Studying dietetics at Plymouth

"At Plymouth, I gained confidence and hugely improved my communication skills – the effect of this extends beyond my working life. The demanding nature of the course instilled in me an intrinsic motivation and a discipline I did not previously have. The regular requirement to reflect on practice, especially on placements, has encouraged me to learn from my experiences and to constantly strive for improvement.

“I would recommend anyone wanting to get into a similar line of work, to work hard, stay focused and do as much relevant work experience as you can, in order to show enthusiasm and commitment. I worked with weight management groups on a voluntary basis and gave presentations to college students in order to develop my skills and to enhance my CV.

“The team of lecturers were supportive, friendly, approachable and encouraging. The teaching was inspirational and engaging and the course was well organised and structured.

"As a mature student, the three-year condensed degree course was hugely beneficial to me, even though it meant harder work and no holidays. I needed to start earning money!”

“My favourite memory of Plymouth is thoroughly enjoying the course and all the learning it had to offer – I was such a geek! I appreciated the friendships I formed and the support we gave each other through difficult and challenging times. Our group research tasks were always rewarding and fun. I stay in touch with friends from the course, all of whom have been very successful after graduating from Plymouth. I am in contact with some of the lecturers too and I am hoping to work with the University in some capacity in the future.”

“I would definitely recommend you to study at Plymouth. It is a supportive and nurturing community, which enables you to work towards fulfilling and successful careers. The University has great links with the working world and opportunities to progress and flourish.“ 

The value of placements

“I undertook three placements during my degree course. Each placement allowed me to put into practice the theory and skills we had learnt about, the opportunity to work with both patients and colleagues and provided an insight into different specialist areas." 

"The placements were a way of building on clinical skills and knowledge, finding out about yourself and developing strategies for coping with a range of situations and problems that you could not experience in a classroom setting.”

Advice to my young self

“As a student, I would definitely tell myself not to get as anxious or stressed about the workload – you need to allow yourself to relax and take time out to recharge, because the course is very demanding and full on. I would make sure I kept on top of the reading, the preparation for assignments and the completion of coursework and reflective tasks, to avoid feeling under too much pressure – easier said than done!"

"Above all, I would say enjoy the experience because university is a fantastic time of your life!"

“After graduating, I initially limited myself to a certain geographical area to find a position, because I wanted to be near friends and family. With hindsight, I would rather have been prepared to move anywhere in order to find the best position for me."

"Having said that though, I feel very lucky to have had the career beginning I experienced, as it led to me specialising in an area I feel passionate about.”

Follow in Claire's footsteps at Plymouth

Healthy eating, nutrition and lifestyles are becoming key issues in today’s society. By focusing on the impact of food and nutrition on health, you'll use your knowledge and skills to make a difference to people’s lives. 

By combining theoretical modules with real life clinical placements you’ll gain all the skills you need for your future career on our BSc (Hons) Dietetics course, accredited by the British Dietetic Association.

Study BSc (Hons) Dietetics

Before you go, did you know this about our dietetics course?

  • It has been cleverly designed to allow skills, including hospital based practice placements, to be introduced in your first year and then integrated throughout the course
  • You'll be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council on successful completion of the course
  • You’ll benefit from research informed teaching, and tailored facilities in our multi-million pound Peninsula Allied Health Centre
  • To complement your formal learning we offer regular PALS sessions that provide the opportunity for you to learn with and from your peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly environment

Dietetics students in a practical session