13 Oct 2022
Tosin Ogunbiyi is a mature student with a Nigerian heritage who is passionate about helping all students, especially those from minoritised groups, have a better experience of university and placement into working life. She shares what Black History Month means to her, and how the Dietetic profession as a whole can celebrate and learn during the month, and beyond.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
An opportunity to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Black communities and a time to reflect on the Black experience and what more needs to be done to address the various inequalities still faced by these communities.
How can your heritage benefit working as a Dietitian?
Dietitians from diverse backgrounds may be more likely or willing to work in underserved communities to which they belong and therefore provide care relative to patients’ cultural norms, values, belief systems, and behaviours which they are likely to have a better understanding of.
This year's theme is ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’ - what next steps would you like to see as a result of this month?
It's important to diversify the dietetic curriculum and understand the health inequalities that underpin the gap in health outcomes. Plus, recruitment and retention initiatives of Dietetic students and Registered Dietitians from diverse backgrounds.
What can people do to celebrate Black History Month?
Promote inclusion and equity within education and workplaces, amplify Black voices, celebrate all that Black communities are, can and will be - in addition to ensuring that continued efforts are made to build on the significant legacy of innovation and advancements that Black communities have contributed to society.
What would you like people not of Black heritage to know about Black history?
Black communities are not a monolith. For example, many communities may share the same types of food and traditions. However while a food can even have the same name, the way it is cooked, tastes and times of year when eaten can vary drastically. Also just because someone is from a specific community does not mean they would necessarily eat their traditional foods.
Reports suggest 4% of Dietitians are Black. How can we encourage more people of Black heritage to take up the profession?
By promoting the profession early in schools, highlighting that it is a reputable career with many different employment opportunities.
What do you love most about studying to become a Dietitian?
The ability to positively help someone optimise their quality of life through health interventions.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a Dietitian?
Use social media to reach out and find Dietitians to talk for more information if considering this.
Who or what inspires you?
Other students and Dietitians of colour.
Top three skills you need in order to succeed as a Dietitian?
Ability to communicate with others, tenacity and compassion.
I have gained several years of experience working in a variety of roles; supporting groups of people from diverse backgrounds. This focus on diversity and inclusivity is reflected in both my work experience and academic studies. I was selected from over 400 applicants to be one of 50 students on the Council of Deans of Health's Student Leadership Programme.
Additionally I was selected from over 500 applicants to be one of 40 on my university’s Women in Leadership Programme. I have volunteered as the BAME Student Rep on the School Academic Committee to encourage inclusivity of the learning experience for all students in my school. I have also volunteered as the Disabled Students’ Rep for the students union for two successive years. In this role I successfully hosted an Art Exhibition for Disability History Month which challenged the assumptions of disabled people’s abilities.
I am currently completing my dissertation that is about exploring the experiences of minority ethnic student and graduate dietitians. I am on the Public Health Specialist Group committee as their student member.