Aisling Lee – BSc (Hons) in Human Nutrition

Name: Aisling Lee

From: Cavan

School: Breifne College, Cavan

Postgraduate Study: Masters of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in the University of Limerick

Current Role: Diabetes Dietitian with the Health Service Executive

My interest in nutrition, food and human anatomy came from studying Home Economics and Biology in secondary school. During my time studying Human Nutrition at ATU Sligo, I had the opportunity to gain experience working in the food industry by completing a nine-month internship with Abbott Nutrition. I also had the opportunity to work within a multidisciplinary team at Sligo University Hospital where I completed my final year research project in the area of clinical nutrition.

I really enjoyed studying all of the modules within the Human Nutrition programme. The ones I enjoyed studying in particular include Clinical Nutrition, Health Promotion, Determinants of Health as well as Food Product Development. The modules are well balanced in terms of containing both theoretical and practical elements. Having both elements in the modules allowed me to put into practice the knowledge I was learning. The lecturers also provided personalized feedback on assignments which was very beneficial for self-improvement.

The best thing about the course is the work placement and research project. These two modules in particular can open up a lot of opportunities for you going forward. Completing a research project may spark interests for you in areas of nutrition that you may not release you have. Work placement provides you with a brilliant opportunity to apply the knowledge you have learned. It also provides you with exposure to the operations of the area you complete your work placement in i.e., healthcare, food industry, research.

My favourite modules would have been Clinical Nutrition and Food Product Development. I really enjoyed studying clinical nutrition as it thought me about the nutritional management of different diseases, further highlighting to me that dietetics would be a profession that I would enjoy.

I also enjoyed studying the module Food Product Development. In this module, I had the opportunity to learn about the different stages involved in product development. I found the laboratory input, nutritional analysis and marketing of food products to be very interesting.

The skills I have learned while studying at ATU Sligo that have influenced my career would include; the development of meticulous research skills which allows me to understand how to interpret and analyze data in research papers. I developed an in-depth knowledge in the area of nutrition.  I improved my confidence in public speaking from presenting to those on my course as well as presenting my final year research project at conferences. My teamworking skills were also strengthened from the completion of group assignments.

I graduated from ATU Sligo with a BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition in 2019. I then went onto complete an MSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Limerick from 2019-2021. During this time, I published my final year research project in the Science Undergraduate Research Experience Journal in 2020. This research was looking at the “Weight status of children aged 2-5 years old, attending a pediatric outpatient clinic and its association with parental feeding style and parental perceptions of weight status”. An abstract of the research paper was also published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2019. Highlighting the opportunities that can arise form your final year research project.

I am currently working as a Diabetes Dietitian with the Health Service Executive.

My advice to current and future students who would like a career in my field? Focus on getting good grades as most graduate programs accept a minimum entry level of a 2:1. Try and get in contact with a dietitian and if it is allowed spend a day shadowing them. Try and get involved in any extracurricular activities such as research, attend webinars, volunteer at nutrition related programs i.e., meals on wheels. This shows your ambition and interest for the profession as well as helping you build a strong application for the MSc programme in dietetics.

Try to read about the profession and really consider if it is an area that you would like to work in. Dietetics as a profession is expanding and this is exciting! The role can be very diverse which allows you to change your area of work i.e., Hospitals, Primary care, health promotion, Food industry, research and more roles are being created.

ATU Sligo has a warm and friendly atmosphere. The campus is small which is nice as it allows you to get to know people really well. ATU Sligo is situated just outside of Sligo Town which is convenient. Strandhill and Rosses Point are two beautiful beaches which are just a few minutes’ drive away which is lovely to have so close by!

To incoming first year students – take every opportunity that comes your way and try to and put yourself out of your comfort zone. This does not just have to be academically. This could be joining different clubs and societies, which can be a great way to meet people with similar interests to you. Enjoy college as it is a life experience, try not to get bogged down on the course work. It all works out in the end!

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