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Gaining an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in a hospital was one of the benefits Alexandra Cowie took away from her industry based learning experience.
“You don’t really know how a hospital works until you’re working in one,” explains the third year Bachelor of Biomedical Science student. Alexandra’s placement was with Barwon Health - Geelong Hospital Nutrition and Dietetics Services and gave her an understanding of how varied a dietician’s role can be.
“As well as working with the patients, hospital dieticians are doing so much behind the scenes, like making information booklets and brochures for their patients and going on courses and doing research to keep up to date.
“I realise now I didn’t really know what a dietician did before I started this placement, now I feel like I have an idea of the everyday things they do,” Alexandra says.
One of the main projects Alexandra worked on during her placement was protected meal times in hospitals. This is about making sure patients have time to eat their meals and aren’t being disturbed for tests and procedures that can wait until later. Her research into the issue resulted in her making an educational DVD for hospital staff, which she presented to department managers.
Dr Roy Hoevenaars is manager of the hospital’s Nutrition and Dietetics Services and was Alexandra’s supervisor. He says Alexandra’s placement was a first for his area and a great success. One of his suggestions to Alexandra was to keep a consolidated summary of what she did on the placement to present to potential employers in the future.
“An employer may ask ‘how can I distinguish between these candidates?’ when presented with several candidates who all have a good academic record,” Dr Hoevenaars says. “I think this type of record can provide information about the candidate that can’t be gleaned from an academic record. In the case of Alex, if I was presented with a summary of what she achieved during her placement I would be impressed, that this is what she is capable of.”
Alexandra also recommends industry based learning as a way to help with future job hunting.
“Even if you realise that the job isn’t exactly what you want to do, you still have that experience of being in the workforce, knowing how people interact in that situation and working with other people that do those jobs and you might even pick up another area that you might be more interested in just by being in a company.
“I can put a lot of things on my resume now, like programs I’ve used and presentations I’ve done and that sort of thing. It was a good experience being put in those situations; it’s scary at the time, but then you look back and think I did that so I could do it again.”