Dietetics Student insight - Emma Kewell

"Choosing University of Plymouth meant I was able to stay in the beautiful South West with my family and still enjoy all that this amazing area has to offer. It is packed full of beautiful coastal and moor walks, land and water sports, a buzzing and vibrant cascade of restaurants and bars and has close links to Cornwall, Exeter, Bristol, and London. It is a three year condensed course, which was important to me - being a mature student it would mean finishing a year earlier than a four year course!

After finishing a BSc (Hons) degree in Ecology and MSc in Conservation Biology, I worked within the public and private sector of planning and ecology. However, after many years I felt unhappy in my career, I found out through a friend that University of Plymouth was offering a three year course in dietetics. I have always had an interest in health and disease, wellbeing and food, and funnily enough when choosing to study for a degree after my A levels, it had been a toss-up between a career as a dietitian or ecologist!! So, with huge support from my family and friends I was encouraged to apply and go for it - I have never looked back.

The course covers a wide range of areas allowing you to have a 'taster' of just about everything, I started the course with one particular area in mind and have now completely changed and would like to specialise in another! The course provides great support and direction and studying dietetics provides you with a stable profession that is fundamental for today's society and provides so much job satisfaction. If you love healthcare and diet this is the career for you!

I entered the course via UCAS, the same as you would if you finish your A levels, or access course. My A levels were biology, chemistry and geography and I contacted my MSc programme supervisor, who provided me with a reference. I would recommend a good understanding of both biology and biochemistry as these are the core subjects for the course. The first year consists of these main areas and allows everyone to be brought up to the same level of understanding in order to progress to the second and third year.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my placements, and I am currently getting ready to start my final placement at Torbay Hospital. I have found this part of the course extremely helpful, it gives you the experience of working as a dietitian, as part of the dietetics department and inter-professional team. You have the opportunity to work in acute and community care, in a variety of specialist areas, all preparing you for your role as a graduate dietitian. The University choose your placements with care, providing you with both a large and small trust for your B and C placement, increasing your overall experience to visualise your future career. 

The good bits to the course are the variety of modules, allowing you to cover many areas of health and disease, which are required for your role as a dietitian. It was initially hard, understanding why we needed to cover some of the aspects of the course, but you soon realise that these are essential to your learning and development as a professional - the jigsaw starts to fit together! I now prefer some of the more detailed and specialist areas of the course. 

There are a variety of ages on the course, those who are straight from A levels, some who have a previous degree and mature students, like myself, who are having a change in career. This provides a diversity to the course and allows peer-support in so many different ways. I particularly like the small group, which provides greater concentration during lectures and means you are able to get to know each and every student, rather than passing faces. 

The course hasn't change the direction of my career, however, it has opened my eyes to what vast array of areas there are to specialise in. As you progress through the course it allows you to investigate the topics you really enjoy. I am excited about what the future holds for me, my specialism and where in the country I may find myself.

I am now in my third and final year, approaching final year exams and the start of my placement - hurray! It is the final push, it is by no way an easy option opting for the three year course, it is hard work, however, the rewards are fantastic and hopefully soon I will be finished and living my dream."