It’s Student Volunteering Week! To celebrate we are sharing a special series of blogs that showcase the difference our student members make to our Group and Branch network, as well as highlight our latest volunteering opportunities.
Here’s Lucy Walton with a blog about her student volunteering experience as part of the Critical Care Specialist Group.
Hi, my name is Lucy and I have been volunteering as a student member of the Critical Care Specialist Group (CCSG) committee for almost a year. I am a final year MSc student dietitian at Teesside University and am currently completing my Practice-based Learning (C placement). I am a huge advocate of students getting involved in volunteering and joining BDA specialist groups to ensure student perspectives are heard.
My role as a volunteer on the committee has been varied; as I was the first-ever student member of the CCSG committee I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to make the role my own. As well as attending bi-monthly committee meetings and writing for the newsletter, I was able to launch a student survey to hear from students themselves on what they would like from specialist groups as a student. As a result of this, I have been able to work with the committee to plan a student webinar on critical care nutrition and create a crib sheet. I hope this project will be extremely valuable for students to provide insight into critical care, as it is an area currently not taught in detail at university and not everyone will have exposure to critical care on placements.
In addition to this, I have assisted with some social media work, especially during Dietitians Week, being involved in an Instagram Live with the group chair, Emma, and helping to design content for the group’s social media channels. . Another highlight of my time as a volunteer was being nominated and shortlisted for BDA’s Student Champion Award 2022. I was lucky enough to attend the awards last summer in Birmingham and be part of the ceremony.
During my time as a volunteer, I have gained a plethora of knowledge and developed skills. I have learnt more about the different opportunities and roles available within dietetics and have heard about some of the most innovative research within critical care.
As well as improving my communication and teamwork skills, I have developed and worked on new skills including project planning and management. I certainly have an increased understanding and appreciation for how much time, planning and hard work goes into developing events and resources.
My confidence levels have greatly improved because of volunteering, and my experience communicating with dietitians within the CCSG made starting placement a little less daunting and helped me realise experienced dietitians are not as scary as we might think! I also am able to express my ideas confidently and not hold back my opinions. Although it may not seem like it, students’ perspectives are valuable.
I track my volunteer hours on Vinspired, which is a platform designed to recognise the contribution that younger volunteers aged under 30 years make. Vinspired offers awards to celebrate reaching milestones depending on how many hours of volunteering you do. The platform is an easy way to track how many hours of volunteering I do and definitely made me realise how much time goes into volunteering. It is great that this can be recognised and celebrated!
Volunteering as a student member of the Critical Care Specialist Group has been incredibly enriching. My time volunteering has complemented my studies and allowed me to develop existing skills and learn new ones. I am continuously inspired by the hard-working committee of volunteers. I highly recommend volunteering to anybody that wants to get involved.
I am also a big advocate of joining a specialist group as a student – as this ensures student resources, projects and events can be created and designed. It is important the group considers student opinions and helps to ensure the future of the workforce is developed. I would highly recommend joining a specialist group, which may give you the opportunity to volunteer. It can be very daunting and may feel overwhelming, but as students, we are able to offer a lot more than we realise and bring fresh eyes and insights to the profession.