Honours student profile - Alvin Wong
Clinical Honours (for Nutrition only)
Bachelor of Science (Nutrition)
Majored in Nutrition and Biochemistry
Currently completing a clinical Honours year
For Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) students, the clinical Honours year puts into practice everything learnt in their degree and is a vital step towards accreditation as a dietitian. Honours student Alvin Wong gives us a closer look at the Honours year and explains why studying nutrition suits him.
What did you do in your Honours year?
To gain accreditation as a dietitian, nutrition students choose training in clinical practice. Our participation in teaching clinics in first semester prepares us for our second semester clinical practice placements in hospitals, the food industry, and community services.
The staff who run the teaching clinics are experienced clinicians and educators. They made teaching clinics fun but always ensured we had a realistic experience. In the clinics, we interacted with people from all walks of life and diagnoses. We saw patients who were diabetic, had food allergies or had common ailments such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol). Putting into practise the knowledge we gained over the past few years, our role was to educate the patients about the diets needed to return to health. In some cases, we provided psychological and emotional support, as people who are newly diagnosed feel a bit lost. It’s often difficult to adjust to a new diet and doubly hard if what you’re used to eating can make your condition worse.
I was always a health fanatic and what you would call a ‘science person’. Studying nutrition allows me to help people through a health field without the need to study medicine. The fact that I’ve received a rigorous science training is important to me – I majored in Biochemistry as well as specialising in nutrition. An added bonus is gaining accreditation as a sports nutritionist (not to mention a dietitian) through the training we will receive in our Honours year. Many of my friends in Singapore enjoyed their time here, so I’m glad I took their advice and chose the University of Sydney for my nutrition degree.
What other areas have your study opened up for you?
My original intention was to become a clinical dietitian, but since discovering the area of brain nutrition I’m seriously considering a Doctor of Philosophy in either that or paediatric nutrition. Brain nutrition examines how certain chemicals and foods improve brain function. These include omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Brain nutrition links in with my interest in paediatrics. Since infant milk powders are heavily supplemented, we investigate their effect on infant brain development and their health in the future.
A highlight of my degree was being selected for the Talented Student Program in my third year. I compared over 100 varieties of organic and regular yoghurts, cheese and milk to determine which are better for us.