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UCD Dietetics Department Links with WGH and SVUH


UCD Dietetics Department Links with WGH and SVUH

The MSc in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics programme is the first graduate programme in dietetics in the Republic of Ireland, with its first intake of students starting the 2-year programme in January 2016. The programme is CORU-approved and incorporates 1000 hours of supervised practice placement, predominantly within the IEHG, the Beacon Hospital and UCD-affiliated clinical and community settings. Students also complete an MSc dissertation in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, usually in one of the UCD-affiliated sites. 

Two of the students who have just completed the MSc programme reflect on the contribution that the IEHG made to their learning. Firstly, Aisling Dunphy describes her experience. “Over the course of my two years in UCD, I had the opportunity to work with dietitians in many areas of clinical and community practice. As students, we learn a lot in lectures but our practical experience in the clinical setting is what provides us with the skill set for our future careers. Our time spent in this setting allows us to apply our knowledge and to develop our communication and interpersonal skills; competencies which require experience beyond the classroom”.

Wexford General Hospital (WGH) has been a valued provider of clinical placements and research projects for dietetic students at UCD. Aisling undertook her MSc research in WGH. She reflects that “I received insight into clinical research with the help of the dietetic and diabetes teams at WGH. My project explored the prevalence of diabetes distress in patients with Type 1 diabetes and its relationship with glycaemic management and dietary quality. With the support of my supervisors in UCD and WGH, I built on my understanding of the research process, including compliance with ethical requirements and data management. I improved my team working skills as part of a multidisciplinary team. However, the most valuable lessons I learnt is the importance of considering the psychological impact of living with a chronic condition, and the need to acquire an empathetic and patient-centred approach”. 

Aisling also had the opportunity to present her research at the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute Research Symposium in Croke Park in January 2019.

Sarah Connellan also gives us insight into her experience of practice placement in St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH). “This was an exceptional learning experience as I had the opportunity to work in a range of specialities and learn directly from dietitians who were experts in their respective fields. I started my placement working with respiratory patients, putting the theory and knowledge I had gained at UCD into practice, while gaining hands-on experience. Following this, a 3-week placement on the cystic fibrosis ward provided me with a rare learning opportunity in this highly specialist patient group and also enabled me to participate in innovative, cutting-edge research on the effects of Orkambi on body composition. I gained in-depth knowledge of cardiology care by assisting with cardiac rehabilitation sessions, providing one-to-one patient-centred care in the Cardiac Care Unit and attending weekly clinics at St. Michael’s Heart Failure Unit.  Towards the end of my placement, I worked with a clinical specialist in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery which gave me extensive experience in treating a range of surgical patients while consolidating my learning and managing my own caseload of patients.

Throughout my placement, I was supported by the dietetics staff in SVUH as well as by my UCD placement tutor and academic staff. Weekly meetings with my placement tutor, with whom I was able to discuss evidence-based clinical reasoning cases regularly, and Fridays spent at UCD where tutorials were held for the entire class were extremely useful as it gave us the opportunity to deepen our learning, discuss patient cases, reflect on our placement experiences and learn from each other”.

The MSc in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics would only be possible with the support of the dietitian managers and practising dietitians in IEHG and the UCD-affiliated hospitals who support practice education and research projects. We hope that their part in producing high-calibre graduates who are badly needed in the Irish health services brings them pride and job satisfaction.

Pictured: The first UCD graduates in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, June 2018

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