Medical Science Degree Nutrition news

My role at De Montfort involves leading the Medical Science Degree. To develop the curriculum further, the HALS team had a good meeting last week with a Clinical Nutritionist from the Leicester Royal Infirmary. I was surprised to hear how the subject of nutrition is rather under-represented for those studying a biomedical and medical science degree, yet the subject offers many exciting career opportunities for students.

Medical science degree image

“Fruit and Vegetables: Turnham Green”
© Pam Brophy, CC BY SA
 

There are several universities in the UK offering degrees in human nutrition and dietetics, but in more general life science degrees, the subject more often does not get a mention. I do run a final year undergraduate module on “Gastrointestinal Disease and Nutrition” as part of my Medical Science degree, and the Leicester Royal Infirmary will be providing cases study materials and research project opportunities for our students. We therefore aim to release these learning resources on the HALS website as OERs.

Nutritionists can be employed in a variety of jobs within the NHS and other industries. People can train as dieticians or nutritionists, working to gain registration from the Health Professions Council and other related professional bodies. In other government organisations nutritionists can be involved in food safety and public health awareness.

I worked previously in the food manufacturing industry having done a medical science degree. This is a large industry sector in the UK, and clearly both human and animal nutritionists played a vital role in product development. Nutrition is a vital subject not just in terms of understanding nutrition related disorders such as obesity, but how nutrients, functional foods, phytochemicals are potentially important clinically to manage disease and in generally in providing benefits to health. In my role as scientist I conducted animal feeding studies to look at the health benefits of fibre, antioxidants and probiotics for example. Just as these nutritional components are important for human health, they are equally important for the health of our animals and pets.

For further information about nutrition and nutrition jobs that would be relevant to those studying a medical science degree, visit the Nutrition Society website (http://www.nutritionsociety.org/).

For educational resources on nutrition for use in an undergraduate medical science degree, watch this space!

Medical Science Degree Students Help Open Education Project

Students studying the Medical Science Degree at De Montfort University have been involved with one part of the HALS OER project that aims to boost student use of open educational resources (OERs). We are finding that students do not know what OERs are or where to find them so just aren’t making the most of the abundance of good learning materials out there.

It is also interesting when you start discussing with them the notion of critically evaluating resources from the internet. We educate Medical Science degree students from day one on how to critique and appraise research articles and books based on credibility and reliability, but not how to select electronic resources such as YouTube videos which they are using all the time.

medical science degree

Information Source Evaluation Matrix, De Montfort University.
Creative Commons BY NC (Use but attribute us. Not for commercial use).

Available at: http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Images/Selfstudy/ISEMLeaflet.pdf

The evaluation matrix developed by De Montfort library staff is being tested by Medical Science degree students on videos, animations and other electronic resources – which in essence is what open educational resources are! Medical Science degree students have highlighted where the above matrix is not appropriate for the task. It has also been a very illuminating exercise for me because it makes me realise they are not making informed decisions about any internet resource. They assume because it is on YouTube it can be used, whereas usually there is no information on which to judge the credibility of the video. So all internet resources / electronic resources / OERs should include:

  • Author name
  • Date of release
  • Institution or organisation
  • Purpose / aim of the resource – what is the student going to learn?
  • Creative commons licence – so the student has found the resources and this will tell them how they can use it!

So our focus groups have served two purposes:

One – to adapt the matrix to suit OERs as a promised output from the HALS project.

Two – Medical Science degree students have seen what OERs are and started to develop an understanding of how to evaluate internet content.

Medical Science Degree and Biomedical Science

The HALS project team are working to establish open education practices within their undergraduate degrees including the Medical Science Degree.

There are a number of university science degrees in the UK that focus on diagnostic and clinical aspects of understanding the human body in health and disease. The names of such degrees can often be confusing.

Biomedical Science is a professionally accredited degree by the Institute of Biomedical Science and contains set disciplines including haematology and microbiology to reflect the job requirements of hospital scientists.

Biomedical Sciences on the other hand might not be professionally accredited and will reflect the subject more generally in line with the research interests of the staff at a particular institution.

Making things even more confusing is the fact that at some universities, a degree similar to the above one might be called Clinical Sciences.

Medical Sciences however is different and is offered at only a small number of universities including Glamorgan and Edinburgh. Rather than focusing on laboratory aspects of diagnosing and investigating the human body, the degree also incorporates more medical subjects for example physiological measurement and patient interaction. This degree attracts students who may want to go into Medicine or medical research.

At De Montfort, because our emphasis is slightly away from having to provide laboratory training, students are offered a more independent experience being able to choose their own topics for study and assignments. We can offer much more in the way of research training which is much sought after by employers in the UK.

Medical Science Degree

Photograph: Normal Blood Cells, CC BY SA, SCOOTER Project. (Medical Science Degree)
 

The HALS team are working with external partners – including Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust – to produce exciting and high quality Medical Science degree learning resources in the areas of gastroenterology and nutrition for example. On January 3rd 2012 Viv attended a meeting at the Gastroenterology Department and the gastro staff came up with several areas for collaboration.

One exciting area is the production of nutritional resources to support medical science degree teaching around the UK. Nutrition is often an under-represented subject area and at De Montfort we run a final year module on gastroenterology and nutrition. We are excited about sharing some of our teaching and assessment materials with the wider community.