08 Sep 2021

Reema Rabheru, a final year Master's student from King's College London, has been elected as the new Student Rep for 2021/22 by fellow dietetic students after a record nine BDA student members applied for the role.

Reema will now attend strategic BDA Board of Director meetings in order to represent the voice of all BDA student members over a twelve month period.

We caught up with Reema to find out what she hopes to achieve during her time as Student Rep.

Why did you apply to be the new Student Rep?

Throughout the summer before I started studying dietetics, I made a series on Instagram giving tips and tricks for when applying for dietetics at university. This included advice around personal statements, interviews, and the application process overall. I received a great amount of positive feedback and was grateful that potential students were responding to posts which I had put a lot of thought and preparation into.

Being able to connect with other dietetic students through social media gave me the confidence to apply for the role. I look forward to continuing connecting and supporting dietetic students by using the huge resource that is the BDA membership community including the website, forum and communication channels. I applied to help grow the BDA student membership community and spread the word to all students to join up and make the most of what BDA student membership has to offer.

It is important for board members to represent the population that they serve. As a British South Asian, I’m truly passionate about diversifying the dietetic workforce and raising the profile and voice of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups; this starts with the students.

What would you like to achieve during your time in the role?

I’d firstly like to encourage peer support. This is crucial now more than ever, to help students feel more prepared ahead of placement and their studies, to reduce any concerns and worries that they may have, and to enhance their placement and overall student experience. I encourage students to connect through social media and the student discussion forum. Additionally, I hope to enhance communication bridges between BDA student members and registered dietitians to create an inclusive community and to support student development.

I intend to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion by encouraging representation of all equality groups throughout student dietitians. This includes ensuring student dietitians of the BAME community are equally being presented with the same opportunities that our non-BAME counterparts have, enabling us to use our knowledge and skillsets to also serve and support the community efficiently and effectively. Additionally, being dyslexic myself, I hope to advocate for students with additional learning needs or specific learning difficulties, to ensure they are aware of the resources and support available, particularly whilst on placement.

I intend to increase student engagement with the BDA by making the most of the student shared resources they have to offer and the CPD opportunities available such as webinars and PEN. I would encourage an increased social media presence of dietetic students to raise awareness of the dietetic profession, to keep up to date with the latest news and topics of interest.

What made you choose dietetics as a career?

I have had an interest in nutrition from an early age, beginning simply with cooking at home where traditional Indian food was mixed with Western cuisine. This turned into a more concrete enthusiasm for learning about the science behind food which led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University. My interest in dietetics has developed over the course of my studies where I have gained a wider knowledge of the relationship between nutrition and disease development and management and also carrying out a 9-month placement with the Leicester Nutrition and Dietetic Service (LNDS).

What route would you like to go down in your career?

As of now, I know I want to work within the NHS due to its principles of inclusivity and its patient-focused values. I have a keen interest in paediatrics and renal.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to seize opportunities – whether that’s on placement or within your studies. Your lecturers and professors are experts within the field, they have been working and have gained experience within dietetics for years, so take advantage of their knowledge!

How did you arrange your placements?

My first placement was with the Leicester Nutrition and Dietetic Service, which was community dietetics within the NHS and was during my undergraduate degree studying Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University. At the time, I wanted to find experience within dietetics to gain more of an insight into the role as a dietitian. I was willing to volunteer and so reached out to as many Trusts as I could and was lucky that LNDS allowed me to volunteer with them, as I know finding experience is very hard to come by.

My other placement was during the first year of my Master's at King's College London at the British Heart Foundation, where I also gained experience of health policy during my public health placement. I am now currently on my clinical placement at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust.

I have also carried out an internship earlier this year with Lucy Neary, a paediatric dietitian; I created infographics for her social media and wrote some blog posts.

Why is it important that students become BDA members?

Students should become BDA members because they offer incredible opportunities and resources. They offer resources to help throughout placement and studies such as the food fact sheets, placement resources on the student forum, food estimation aids and summaries, but they also offer a great amount of support.

This includes the student discussion forum and the Managing Your Mental Health student guide, which is a major priority during this time. The opportunities available are only getting better within the BDA for students, including free membership for two BDA specialist groups to get an insight into specialities as well as a discount for the Manual of Dietetic Practice which is a great resource throughout your studies and into the profession.

Being a student member creates opportunities to write in the RD2B ezine and Dietetics Today magazine. And finally, it gives you the opportunity to connect with other dietetic students and registered dietitians through local and national BDA events and to take part in BDA campaigns. I would highly recommend all dietetics students join the BDA to become part of the professional dietetic community.

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