Emily is in her final year of BSc Nutrition and Exercise as Medicine and talks us through how her placement has helped to shape her future, quite literally!
- Where is your placement and how long is it for?
I am on placement as a part of a research study in the area of Corporate Health and Wellbeing between AJ Bell, Urban Reform and University of Salford. I started my placement in September and I will finish around March, having accrued approximately 150 hours.
- What gave you the idea for the research project?
My interest in corporate health and well-being was sparked by a module on this area during my 2nd year. The idea for the research project had been formulated by the 'Nutrition and Exercise as Medicine' staff at University, after Urban Reform contacting them to see whether they could help with a research project ascertaining movement patterns and health and wellbeing of the HR department of AJ Bell. I was then asked if I would like to be involved with the design of the research project so I jumped at the opportunity as this is an under represented aspect of health and fitness with a real need for change.
- What are the different aspects of the project for consideration?
The study has involved taking a random selection of HR staff and asking them whether they would be willing to participate in the study. They have been provided with an information sheet, which details the nature of the study and what is required from them, and also a consent form for them to confirm their interest. I am then responsible for arranging the data collection period with the staff, providing the activity device and its application, and undertaking baseline Health and wellbeing measures via questionnaire. I have also asked them to keep an activity log so we are aware of what they are doing on a daily basis for a total of 7 days.
- How have you collected data?
I have used physical activity data collection devices called activPALS. The activPALS are worn on the participants right leg for 7 days and are only to be taken off if they wish to have a bath or go for a swim where they would then log down the time spent with the device off. The activePALS track sitting, standing and moving behaviour and give a really good insight on active and more importantly inactive time periods of the day.
- What will you do with the data?
As I am collecting the data on a weekly basis, as the staff are wearing a 7 day activPAL, I am entering the data as I get it, but I will wait until I have at least 6 weeks worth of data before I start to analyse it. Initially, I will use descriptive analysis to create a movement profile of the target population and it may be that I use inferential statistics to address some research hypotheses (all of which I have learnt during the degree programme).
- What has the buy in from staff been like?
It has been really good. Initially there was less interest however as word spread and staff members saw co-workers getting involved in the study, I now have a lot more participants to the point where I have several weeks of participants lined up. I have also developed my selling skills and really learnt how to explain how getting involved in the study benefits the participant directly (helping them identify inactive time periods of the day to become more active).
- How are you supported by your lecturers before and on the placement?
I get great support from my lecturers as they are just an email away. I have had a number of complications arise however did not feel stressed as I knew if I could not resolve it myself, they would step in and give me a hand. One example is the software used for the activPALS is not compatible with my laptop, so my lecturer helped organise a lab laptop for me to borrow and the issue was resolved.
- What have you learnt by being in an industry setting and how important is this time within your degree?
Being on placement with Urban Reform has been amazing for gaining experience in a field I intend to work in as my career. It has given me real life scenarios you cannot get in the classroom, and this helps improve my personable skills. The placement has provided me with opportunities I would never have gained without meeting the people I have. I was asked by the placement mentor at Urban Reform to model for his new activewear brand being released with footlocker in the new year. Besides getting involved with exciting new pieces of research and gaining hands-on real-life experience, I have received some really positive feedback which has reassured me that I am doing really well on my placement. Finally, the owner of Urban Reform has now offered me a position on his team after graduating, which is within only 3 months of working with him
- What would your advice be to a person thinking of studying NEM in September
I highly recommend applying to Nutrition and Exercise as Medicine (NEM). Besides the degree programme, we get the opportunity to gain a number of vocational qualifications too (Level 2 Health Navigator, Gym Instruction, Level 3 Personal Trainer, Level 3 Long term conditions and the possibility of getting on the Register of Nutrition (currently underway). I started 4 years ago on the foundation year and now I am in my final year. The time has simply flown by. I have been using my level 2 Gym Instruction qualification since 2nd year, gaining experience in the gym space and now will be utilising my level 3 in the new year to gain even more experience and this is all prior to graduation. Get applying, you can easily do the same!