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Millie Elcock

Millie offers a detailed rundown of all of her placement experience across the degree programme.

My name is Millie and I am a fourth year student on the Integrated Master’s of Dietetics programme at Newcastle University. In this piece, I am going to outline my placement experiences to give you an insight into what they involve.

Placement A was made up of visits to different settings such as foodbanks and care homes, and a 1-week NHS placement in 2nd year. I spent an afternoon at The People’s Kitchen in Newcastle where we helped to prepare the evening meal and were given a presentation about the charity, which was particularly insightful. I also went on a factory visit to Simply Food Solutions who supply hospital meals, including texture modified meals. Gaining an industry perspective and understanding of the challenges when creating texture modified products has stuck with me throughout the degree and during placement experiences. For my 1-week NHS placement, I was based at an eating disorders outpatient centre which exposed me to the complexities of dietetic intervention for eating disorders, and to working within a multidisciplinary team.

For placement B, I spent 12 weeks at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton. This was a small community hospital with only a small team of dietitians, but this was very positive for me as it meant the dietitians got to know me well and could really tailor their support and my timetable to my development needs and interests. I worked on the inpatient wards, predominantly working with elderly patients requiring nutrition support and wound healing advice. I also experienced outpatient gastro clinics, GP clinics, home visits and type 2 diabetes group education sessions. I particularly enjoyed the group education sessions and observing the dynamic between the dietitian and patients in a group setting. I delivered a talk on cholesterol and enjoyed discussing it in greater depth during an education session. The dietetic team at Northallerton really supported me and challenged me by seeing more complex patients in the later stages of the placement. I am extremely grateful to the team for all their time and support which helped me build strong foundations going into Placement C.

Millie in her dietetics uniform.

For Placement C, I spent 12 weeks at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. My main base was South Tyneside Hospital, but I also spent some time at Sunderland Royal Hospital which was helpful to have experience in a larger hospital. The placement was split into a community rotation, a gastro rotation and then 3 weeks of consolidation. I really enjoyed both the community and gastro rotation, and the dietitians were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their specialist areas and shared a huge amount of knowledge and experience with me. I ended placement with 3 weeks of independent practice where I was responsible for my own caseload of patients on a care of the elderly ward and also ran two outpatient general clinics. Having this experience improved my confidence hugely and prepared me well for when I qualify. It was great to be trusted with my own caseload to help become a more autonomous practitioner, while also knowing that the support was there from the team if I needed it.

The variety of placement experiences is a real highlight of the course at Newcastle university, as they have helped me to develop skills beyond the clinical environment. We were well supported with a lot of preparation work prior to going on placement, especially for the longer 12-week placements.