5 June 2023

Our dietitians play a valuable role not only offering advice to patients but working with colleagues to ensure the best outcome. Dietitians’ Week runs from 5-9 June and to celebrate, we’re sharing the amazing story of one of our student dietitians, Kate Southan.

“Rewind five years ago and I was in a marketing job that I wasn’t enjoying. I had this overwhelming sense that I wanted to challenge myself and I would wake up contemplating what else I could do.

“I regretted not going to university when I was younger, but by now I ran a busy household with three children – how would I fit studying around that?

“I spent a lot of time googling careers and courses, and time again I came back to dietetics. Having children had sparked an interest in nutrition and I had run my own catering business in the past, so it felt like a perfect fit.

“Despite not having any A-levels in science, which were an entry requirement for the course, I  nrolled onto an Access to Higher Education Course in Science at a nearby college which, if I passed, would be the equivalent of three A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

“Everything was going well and I was getting back into the swing of studying… and then COVID-19 hit. Suddenly I was at home studying with all three of my children! This presented some obvious challenges, but I managed to complete the course with some module distinctions. The hard work had paid off and I could seriously start thinking about university now.

“To be a registered dietitian I knew that a degree was the only route, so I applied to two universities. I accepted a place at Coventry, with the placements being closer to home, and began full-time study as a mature student.

“It was a huge adjustment. I was juggling lots of travelling and pressing deadlines on top of my busy family life, but I kept going. I learned so much on my placements, and although I would make mistakes along the way, having a supportive teaching environment was so important.

“One of my placements was at The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust. It was a step-up from my first placement and I could really get my teeth into things. It gave me an incredible sense of what the job would involve and by the end I was acting like a real-life dietitian! Placements can be full-on, but I had really supportive supervisors at SaTH who I could speak to about any personal or professional issues.

“On the final day of my placement, I was presented with a Golden Ticket. This meant that I was invited to join the SaTH team as a dietitian once I graduated and gained my HCPC registration. It is like a dream come true – something that seemed so distant is now becoming reality.

“The three-year course has flown by but none of it would be possible without the support of my family and friends. I can honestly say that the early starts, the assignment deadlines, and juggling family commitments (including parents’ evening calls on the train home from uni) have all been worth it. I look forward to starting my career in dietetics, and wherever that takes me in the future.”