I imagine some of you may be interested in how the new term in Dietetics is shaping up. It's year 3 out of 4; this year at last we are putting all the theory we have sweated over in the first two years into a practical context.
In two years we have been taught about the chemical properties of nutritional molecules like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and so on; metabolic systems in the body like how fats are transported in lipoprotein particles of different densities; biochemical pathways like digestion and the disposal of lipids and glucose in cells, and about most of the main organ systems in the body. And much more. Looking back, I have learned an enormous amount, but I also realise how little that is in the pool of knowledge about human health and disease.
The modules this semester are Health Promotion, Nutrition and the Health of Populations, Diet Therapy and Molecular Nutrition. Diet Therapy stands out as the highlight so far - it takes place every Monday until mid-December, and we cover the dietetic principles surrounding real medical conditions. It's where we get started on turning into dietitians who meet and treat people who are ill. Our next clinical placements aren't until next summer, but we're clearly being prepared to go out into the real world.
Health Promotion seems a bit like a continuation of the work we did on Communication Skills, but rather than one-to-one in a consultation or one-to-many in a presentation, it's about putting nutritional health messages out into the wider community, and sets the scene for Public Health Nutrition. The Health of Populations module actually covers nutrition through the life cycle from conception to senescence, and is managed by my favourite tutor, who also wrote the textbook. Molecular Nutrition is about the effects of nutrients at the cellular level - an obvious example would be how glucose triggers the secretion of insulin.
The class is still complete - there have been no dropouts over the summer. We seem to have found our places within the class; there are quiet students and outspoken ones, some that I find sympathetic and likeable, some obnoxious, and some I really don't know at all, even after two years. The workload is certainly going to be heavy this year, and coursework has already been set for delivery by early November and onwards. After a pretty lazy summer, I wasn't really looking forward to all the work, but as usual, it's been really interesting so far.