Ashley was a trainee Electronics Technician in the British Army.
When he left in 2000 he didn’t have a clear idea of what career would come next but did know that he had a keen interest in sport, fitness and eating well; would it be possible to combine those interests into a future career?
In 2003 Ashley was working within the NHS as Support Worker for people with learning disabilities when a dietitian introduced him to the work of allied health professionals (AHPs);
Ashley said, “I went home that evening and googled dietitian, and came across the world of AHPs.”
With his highest qualifications being GCSEs, Ashley knew he would have to find a way to get to university, without A levels.
“With the help of my partner we looked into alternative ways to get onto a degree course. I ended up enrolling onto an access course in science at North Trafford College which was a recognised pathway into higher education. Work was really supportive and arranged my shifts around the days I wasn’t at college. After completing the course, I applied to several universities to undertake a BSc in Dietetics. I was lucky enough to be offered a place at Leeds Metropolitan University. I started my degree in 2005 when I was 25 and qualified when I was 29; it was four-year degree, with the third year being a placement within an NHS dietetic department.”
Having qualified, Ashley was able to see similarities between his former career and working in the NHS;
He said, “In the Forces you have experienced being part of a very big organisation that operates in a pressured environment and also in both careers, your team is crucial.”
“Being a dietitian is a really good career because it can be as varied as you would like it to be. One day, I will be seeing patients, the next I will be teaching nursing staff, junior doctors and other AHPs or being involved in research projects. Being a Critical Care Dietitian I see patients at their worst and I help them through this period with nutrition support; there is nothing better than seeing them leave the critical care unit and working with them on their journey to recovery.”
“If you are thinking of a career in an allied health profession, everything is achievable, you just need to seek the correct guidance and support to help you on your way. Try to get experience shadowing AHPs to get a feel for the job and find out as much as you can about the profession. I left the army with only GCSE qualifications but with support, encouragement and the determination you get from the armed forces, I got to where I wanted to be. If I can do it, then everyone else can too.”
To find out more about allied health professions visit https://bit.ly/2xFsRVi.