Nusrat Kausar interview: my journey into the world of dietetics
Nusrat Kausar is a dietitian with over 13 years of experience. For the last 20 months Nusrat has been working as a freelance Diabetes Dietitian as well as working as a PCN Diabetes Dietitian in GP surgeries.
Nusrat gives her insight into what a career in nutrition or dietetics looks like at how there’s still a route into the sector for students without a nutrition or dietetics degree!
Where did you study dietetics and what was it like?
I went to Leeds Beckett University and I did a 4 year BSc Honours Undergraduate Dietetics degree. This is very different to a Nutrition degree. Dietetics allows you to work in the NHS with patients as part of the degree. The university organises clinical placements for you to gain experience and become competent at working with patients in various settings; therefore, allowing a wide range of job prospects upon completing the degree.
What are three of your best achievements in your career so far?
- Winning BDA Branch of the year – working with the team to achieve this together was fantastic
- Going back to Leeds Beckett University in 2019 to study for a PG Certificate in sport and exercise nutrition
- Launching my freelance career in 2020 and exploring new ways of working during COVID. As sole trader for my own private business work and then with friends/colleagues launching our company, Nutribytes, which is a creative media company founded by a group of registered dieticians. We create educational and nutritional content for health care professionals and the public. In essence, we create patient explainer videos, social media content and are working on running webinars
When did you know that becoming a dietitian was what you wanted to do?
I really didn’t know! I had an interest in nutrition and often read books on vitamins, minerals and new fad diets. I also knew I really wanted to work in healthcare and work with people. However, I didn’t like the idea of physically touching patients! Instead, I looked at other allied health professional roles in prospectuses for inspiration and came across the role of the dietitian. I shadowed a dietitian in hospital and from that experience I was sure this was something I wanted to do and I really haven’t regretted it since.
How rewarding is your job?
Every time you help someone make a change to their diet or support them to improve their health, through your advice or your actions, it is extremely rewarding. The feeling of helping others and knowing you were involved in that journey is what gets me out of bed every day.
Would you encourage graduates to look for careers in the food and nutrition industry?
There are so many different opportunities and roles in the food and nutrition industry. Dieticians can work in this area too, but so can nutritionists and many other food related roles. Before food can be taken to the public, we rely on rigorous scientific research, data interpretation, thorough testing and innovative and creative work that goes on behind the scenes before it can be eaten or even promoted. If you want to be involved in this and make a difference, then this industry is for you.
For those who don’t have a degree in dietetics, what other job opportunities are there in your field?
Lots of hospitals or community teams have dietetic assistants. They are people with an interest in nutrition but no dietetics degree, who work under the supervision of a dietitian and can be trained up to work in the same areas. Lots of freelance dieticians now take on interns, who might already have an interest in nutrition and can support the dieticians with their private work and gain experience with running a business, doing administrative work or marketing through creative social media content.