My Placement Year so Far: Nutrition and Dietetics

Let’s start off with a brief introduction to the Nutrition and Dietetics course. It is a four-year healthcare course, accredited by our guiding body, the ‘British Dietetic Association’. It gives us the knowledge and practical experience to develop into becoming dietitians (professionals that help support people with a variety of medical and clinical conditions, within a wider medical team, through food and lifestyle intervention). Our practice is always backed by evidence and our scientific knowledge, skills which we learn throughout the degree and our career.

Nutrition and Dietetics Course page Nutrition and Dietetics BSc (Hons) degree course 2023 entry | University of Surrey

Placement Structure

Moving on to the main part of this blog… Placement!

So, placement for us largely takes place in our third year (there is also an ‘A’ placement during and at the end of your first year). Third year is split into:

  • 2 placements ‘B’ and ‘C’ within a clinical NHS setting (community or hospital-based), each lasting 12 weeks
  • 4-week mid-placement module in January module (held virtually via Zoom this year)
  • Some set pre-course tasks and ‘distance learning’ before each placement begins.

Placement in the Hospital setting is not confined to, but will involve, seeing patients on various in-patient wards, participating in multi-disciplinary meetings and undertaking audits. In the Community setting, you may be involved in things like outpatient clinics, home visits and public health initiatives.

I have just finished the mid-placement module ‘Applied Dietetics 2’ which has been such a nice way to tie together our knowledge, experiences and what we’ve all learnt from our 2 ½ years at Uni and placement. It is also an opportunity to come together as course-mates to chat through and engage with all of the fascinating learning material we cover, through sessions like ‘problem-based learning’ and subject-specific workshops.

Assessment Method

We are continuously assessed throughout our placement year and, as such, do not have a ‘formal’ assessment, coursework or exams. But, instead, take responsibility for our learning and development by filling out our portfolio throughout placement. This guides us towards achieving set ‘learning outcomes’ which are established and worked towards throughout the placement year.

Support available

Even though we are not at Uni for the majority of the year, that’s not to say we are not still a part of it. Everyone on placement year still has access to all of the University library resources available online, the Centre for Wellbeing, and other services Surrey has for its students. And, most importantly, there is still a strong communication between you and your teaching staff. Your personal tutor will be available if you have any questions or concerns throughout the year and you will take part in pre-placement briefing meetings, alongside contact through email and Surrey Learn (our virtual learning platform) and throughout the pre-course tasks and mid-year module.

What I’ve learnt

This is also a good time to point out that (although some are one-person placements), you are likely to be placed with one or more other student peers on each placement who will be great to talk things through with and understand what you’re experiencing. Either way, it is just as important, to keep in touch with your friends and family too – I won’t say that every day is going to be easy, so having that supportive network of people around you to call on and communicate with is very important.

Placement year has been such a great experience so far – from my first time working in a hospital setting alongside a wonderful team to finding suitable accommodation, learning to adapt to changes to learning from mistakes, and growing in myself and my knowledge. It has been difficult at times, but I am really loving it, and am now sure Dietetics is exactly what I’d like to do.

In Summary

Placement year is a compulsory part of the Nutrition and Dietetics course and, although you are not formally assessed in the mode of exams, you have to be on you’re A game, and engage in every available opportunity, to make it worthwhile. Placement really helps to better understand the array of applications that Dietetics can have and whether this career path is right for you.

I’ll leave you with some ‘top tips’ for Placement:

  • Get involved and get to know your team early on
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you’re not expected to know everything!
  • Take time for yourself outside of placement to relax and enjoy
  • Keep in regular contact with your friends, family and peers
  • Give things a try and be open to learning

The day this blog goes live, I will be starting my C Placement… and can’t wait to see what I’ll learn next!