18 Jun 2020

As we draw closer to the end of the academic year I have been reflecting on my time as the BDA Student Rep 2019/20 and what a wonderful opportunity it has been to engage with so many other student dietitians around the UK.

It has been such an honour to represent student views and attend a variety of events to promote the student voice. Most of all, it has been very inspiring to see so many students sharing their own voice, with many students using social media to share their learning experiences and promoting their amazing work. As my time as the BDA Student Rep comes to an end, I wanted to share some of my highlights to inspire others to put themselves forward as the next student rep.

Memorable experiences

I was voted into the role by my peers in June 2019, and was invited to BDA HQ in Birmingham where I met some of the amazing BDA staff. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and I had so much support for my new role. It was very reassuring to know I had a support network in place and the flexibility to fit my BDA commitments around my University work. My University (Leeds Beckett) was also very supportive, and I was very proud to be able to present to my fellow students on the benefits of being a BDA student member.

One of my most memorable experiences was attending the European Federation of the Associations for Dietitians (EFAD) conference in Berlin. It is an international conference showcasing some of the latest dietetic research, professional workshops and presentations on a variety of areas within dietetics, public health and global topics.

Thanks to the BDA’s General and Education Trust (GET) fund, I was able to apply for financial support to attend as the BDA Student Rep. EFAD opened my eyes to the unity of the profession and the value of dietitians in a variety of settings. I particularly enjoyed the dedicated Students Day, run by the European Network for Dietetic Students (ENDietS). Here I met students from across Europe and was able to learn how similar, or different, our training is. I built lasting friendships and quickly realised how valued we, as students, are by the Dietetic profession.

Professional development

Part of my role also involves attending the BDA Board Meetings, where I am able to observe first-hand, how top-level strategic decisions are made, and meet fellow BDA board directors.

This has been an amazing opportunity to represent student views and discuss student matters. Seeing decisions being made at this level has been invaluable for my professional development and I feel very fortunate to have had this experience as a student.

In December I attended the BDA Research Symposium, in which dietitians across the UK presented their research. As the BDA Student Rep my role was to share live updates via the student Twitter account and promote the event to other students. This felt particularly relevant because many of the presenters were newly graduated dietitians presenting their dissertation findings.

The Symposium highlighted the value of research and how important it is for the profession to showcase our work. I would highly recommend students attend a future BDA Symposium and, if you have completed your dissertation, to consider submitting an abstract. If accepted, you’ll get to present at the event and also be showcased and featured in the BDA Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics!

I have gained so much from my experience as the BDA Student Rep, and I would encourage other students to consider applying for the role. You will gain insights you would never anticipate, and will develop so much on many levels.

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Author

Alison Booker

BDA Student Rep 2019/20