Undergraduate Focus: Something new to learn every day
Four professionals talk about how the fields of life sciences and allied health offer numerous career opportunities, and continue to educate them long after they’ve left school.
Daniel’s foray into the field of sports science started out as merely an interest, but then he decided to put it to use and cash in on his knowledge investment. Presently, Daniel works as a physical instructor and personal trainer, certified by the American Council on Exercise and he obtained his qualification locally through an international standard fitness certification and training centre known as Fit Malaysia.
More recently, he added another feather to his cap when passed the National Sports Council’s Sports Science level one certification. He says that the first certification is general but the second is focused on sports.
“Another route that one can take is to obtain a degree from a university, usually in sports science or better exercise science. A professional certification like mine can take as short or as long as you want it to take while a degree can take up to four years, depending on where you study,” Daniel says.
Daniel has been in the fitness industry for a little more than a year and considers himself still new. A field like fitness, he says, is one where you are always learning.
He says fitness is a sunrise industry and believes that there are plenty of opportunities available as more and more people have begun to realise that ill health is avoidable through good nutrition and exercise. With this and the attention it has been receiving from the media in recent times, he is confident that the industry will continue to grow steadily.
Having said that, he continues that obtaining a degree or certification would not suffice as one would have to put in enough hours of training.
“The application of the knowledge is really important as we are dealing with people’s bodies so I think fresh graduates need to put in some time, even free hours under some mentorship, to learn,” he elaborates.
Aside from personal training a person can venture into education in diploma or degree courses or training. Additionally, Daniel continues, one can consider consulting, although it would require more experience in fitness or sports management.
“Other career options include physical education in schools, or sports specific training while some trainers upgrade themselves and move into rehabilitative training,” he says.
Daniel advises those interested in pursuing a career in fitness to always be open to learning new things, give their clients the best, and be passionate about what they do.
“If you’re not passionate, it shows and no one is interested to learn from or train under someone who has no passion.”
Wong Chee Siong
Armed with a Bachelor of Science majoring in food science and nutrition and 18 years of quality assurance experience with various companies in the food industry, Wong can be seen as somewhat of an expert in the field.
To specialise in food science, he says that a degree in food science, microbiology or food technology is preferable. However, if one does not have any of these degrees, then a related science degree will do.
“The field also requires years of exposure in different food industries such as factories, hotels and restaurants. Learning experiences can be obtained through consultancy work and being updated on food safety legislation. There is constantly knowledge to be acquired in this field and you will eventually become good after five or more years and with 10 years of experience, you will be very skilled in the field,” Wong states.
The food science industry has much to offer graduates in terms of stability and job opportunities. “Food science and food technology courses are popular as the food market is resilient as even through an economy crisis, people will still need to eat. Plus graduates in the field can find employment in the manufacturing line – production, quality assurance, research and development – or in sales or business development,” he concludes.
Now in her fourth year as a registered nurse for adults having earned her Bachelor of Nursing at Liverpool University in the UK, Day currently works at a cardiac ward and cares for patients undergoing medical and surgical treatments for cardiac problems.
“My job entails nursing care including medication administration, wound dressing, cardiac monitoring and patient hygiene. Additionally, I perform patient assessments such as observations,” Day says.
She has been in this unit for more than year but plans to move on to other units before choosing to specialise in one.
“Potentially once I have found an area I want to continue with I can start a postgraduate course in that specialism,” she says.
The nursing profession, Day adds, is one where you are constantly learning. “Your degree in nursing is just the start of your learning. I would honestly say I have learnt something new every day in this job.Continuing professional development is also vital and in fact, is part of the requisite for renewing your registration as a nurse as healthcare is always changing and new research has implications for practice. Keeping up to date is vital to ensure patients receive the best care.”
Graduates now have to be flexible in the type of units they work or sometimes even move to a different location to secure the job they want. Day is a good example as she graduated in the UK and is now working in Australia.
“I have friends who have qualified in Ireland coming to Australia to get their first job. This is one of the joys of nursing as there is the flexibility of working in any part of the world. It is also very rewarding as every day offers you new challenges and you get to meet many great people. Choosing nursing for me was the best choice of my career.”
Letchumi Davi Somu
Her highest qualification is BSc (Hons) in Professional Practice in Nursing and Davi trained as a registered nurse in London. Soon after, she decided to specialise in ophthalmology out of interest and worked in the field for 17 years.
Later on she chose to specialise in midwifery as it was a requirement for her to be promoted to a sister but she did not practice in the field. Her most recent specialisation is gerontology, a six-month course, which she did while nursing the elderly in a medical ward for five years.
Now Davi has left the nursing profession and has taken on the role of a programme co-ordinator for a Foundation in Nursing Programme. “My years of experience in both the clinical area and management experience in addition to having a degree helped me in securing my present position. I chose to go into education simply because I have always loved to teach and I have vast knowledge and experience that I can share with the younger generation,” she says.
Davi says presently there is a surplus of nurses in Malaysia but she does not expect it to last very long as the nursing standard is slowly being upgraded from a diploma to a degree.
Having worked in the industry for a long time, Davi has seen it evolve and says that now, there are a lot more opportunities for nurses to pursue higher education studies and now they can also specialise in the various fields of nursing.
She hopes that in the future, nursing will once again become a popular career among people who are really passionate about caring for the sick.