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My time at the University of Chester was rewarding both personally and professionally. I’ve remained in touch with several people from the course in both capacities.
I initially chose to study an MSc to enhance my career prospects and attempt to differentiate myself from the large pool of Sport and Exercise Sciences graduates leaving University at BSc level. I’d like to think I achieved that as my current employers openly told me at interview stage that my MSc was a key factor on my CV.
The monthly module format at Chester was perfect for me as it allowed me to support myself financially through a full-time job, and provided the time to pursue extracurricular activities to further enhance my CV. For example, I became a contributor to BASES magazine. The opportunity to sit a sports nutrition module under Professor Don MacLaren was great. And for the first time in my academic life, Dr Mike Morris managed to make me understand data analysis and statistics.
I now work in a full time Sports Nutrition Marketing role in the sports supplement industry, for one of the UK’s leading sports nutrition brands. This is my second successive role in this industry and I hope my MSc will be the backbone of a successful career in sports nutrition.
After graduating from a degree in Health and Fitness Management, I was keen to continue developing a deeper understanding of the role that exercise and nutrition plays in health and wellbeing. Having looked around at a number of Master’s degrees, I decided to study for an MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Science at the University of Chester as it had a wide-ranging focus on exercise, nutrition and physiology. During my studies at Chester, I was able to develop a detailed understanding of exercise prescription, sports nutrition and physiology, and prevention of common health conditions.
At the end of my MSc, I graduated with a Distinction and applied to Nuffield Health for the role of Regional Clinical Lead (RCL) Physiologist. I have no doubt that having my MSc was one of the key reasons that I was offered the role, and the knowledge I gained has been an important factor in my progression from RCL, to Deputy Professional Head of Physiology and, 18 months ago, to Professional Head of Physiology. My role now involves acting as the Professional Head for a team of approximately 100 Health and Wellbeing Physiologists, overseeing all aspects of clinical governance, professional development and effectiveness.
My experience of studying at the University of Chester on the MSc in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation has been a wonderful journey. I found the course content to be extensive; encompassing all the essentials necessary for delivering and working on a cardiac rehabilitation programme. Though the style of learning, namely writing assignments using critical appraisal and current evidence, was new and challenging at first, with guidance from staff and hard work of course, I found it intellectually enriching.
Being an International student, the student support team were very good in offering all the help and guidance I needed when I first came over. I especially enjoyed living in beautiful and student-friendly Chester.
Today working as a part of an expanding Cardiac Rehabilitation service in the NHS, it is fantastic to be able to apply my learning to my work. Be it exercise testing and prescription, or statistics and research, or cardiac psychology – all modules have proved very useful so far. Understanding how cardiac rehab was established and continues to be delivered in the UK is quite fascinating as well.The most satisfying aspect for me though is my patients’ appreciation for the work we do. In the future, wherever my career may progress, I am sure my learning and experience so far will stand me in good stead.
Luke Daley is a Band 5 Public Health Nutritionist working for NHS Nottinghamshire county health partnerships. His job involves co-ordinating three areas of Nottinghamshire (Mansfield, Gedling and Rushcliffe). His job has involved setting up and booking people in to deliver cooking courses, one off talks on Eat well Plate i.e obesity, Anorexia, weaning, cooking on a budget! All the things he learnt on his postgraduate programme at the University of Chester. Luke has also delivered workshops to primary and secondary schools and delivers training sessions to health care staff.
Luke recently studied the MSc in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Chester. Luke says: The public health nutrition masters enabled me to great improve my Nutrition knowledge and how to apply the theory in community work practice. The Evidence based nutrition module - taught me a deep understand of journals and how to critically analyse literature and harness the relevant details from journals and other articles. The Food and nutrition for health module gave me the confident to deal with food and the diversity of food available for different diets. The Nutrition science module gave me a good depth of knowledge into nutritional biochemistry and how macro and micro vitamins work on a cellular level, which I now use in training for health care professionals.
Studying Sociology and psychology and public health helped my understand in more detail mental and social wellbeing issues people have with food, which can lead to co-morbidities such as obesity and anorexia. It also taught me about current behaviour modification techniques and how to approach change behaviour. Finally, the Developing health communities module focussed on effective team work and through developing a project proposal for funding on a topical issue, a live assessment involving designing, delivering and evaluating an interactive educational topic for community group really enabled the theory practice gap to be filed. The module encourages reflection and coupled with professional development seminars across the programme made me focus on what skills I was learning and what I could do by way of reflection.
One area of group work coursework for this module involved the topic of fish sustainability and how over fishing is affecting UK fish populations, these messages I now use in my job role and teach children about to prevent new generations from choosing fish that aren't suitable for the future and showing them which fish are. Being assessed on our ability to measure peoples BMI (Chester now leads a Service User project to do this with real people) and take diet histories from individuals as a competency have all been valuable skills which I use in my current role.
I had a good time studying the programme and made a lot of friends. Chester is a great place to study, the staff are approachable and know the field and I would recommend the programme to anyone who wants to develop a career in this field.
Prior to the completion of my Master’s degree I was presented with a number of career opportunities, namely in clinical physiology and research – opportunities contingent on the experience I had gained in undertaking this programme. Influenced by the highly enjoyable and successful research I had conducted during my time in Chester, I decided to embark upon a PhD at Durham University where I also fulfil a role as a part-time teacher. I am currently in the closing stages of my PhD and hope to pursue an academic career in higher education.
The Master’s in Exercise and Nutrition Science provided me with strong research skills, sound subject knowledge and the practical expertise to operate in a variety of settings across a diverse range of populations, instilling in me the confidence to make the transition into a work-oriented environment. I thoroughly enjoyed both the programme and my time in Chester, and having my thesis research published was a great personal accomplishment for me.
The strengths of the course lie in its structure, the excellent provision of support materials and the quality contact time which provides the optimum balance of theory and practical content. Upon completing the MSc, the skills and knowledge I had gained offered me tangible routes into community and public health promotion, clinical exercise settings, performance sport, and research.
Since leaving Chester I have undertaken several roles and I firmly believe that I would not have secured any of them without undertaking the Masters course. Undertaking the course and receiving a distinction for my work gave me confidence in my abilities which I took into the workplace. The course highlights to employers that I have the relevant background knowledge for work in this area, whilst also having the necessary commitment and dedication to undertake a course of this level; it also gave me valuable skills in research and evaluation.
Since completing the MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Science I have had a number of varied and interesting jobs. I have worked as a Sessional Food & Health Worker where I led cookery classes in Community Centres for children aged 4 - 11, giving dietary advice and information to the children and their parents and promoting the 5 A DAY message.
Following this I worked as a Community Leisure Officer for Lancaster City Council where I organised events and sessions which encouraged all levels of physical activity and supported community cohesion. I have also worked as a Public Health Development Worker for children and young people, where I worked as the Infant Feeding Co-ordinator and Healthy Schools Co-ordinator for Blackpool PCT.
I am currently the Project Development Officer for the North West Food and Health Task Force. This involves developing and supporting the implementation of policies aimed at improving patterns of dietary behaviour, improving health, reducing nutritional inequalities, supporting the local food economy and improving standards in food safety and food quality in the region.