International Medical University (IMU) Nutrition and Dietetics alumnus, Kenneth Loh currently works as a dietitian at DF Pharmacy, the first pharmacy in Malaysia to provide dietetic services in the private sector – easing long queues in the government hospital. He is also one of the preceptors for IMU’s Dietetics with Nutrition final year students during their Community Dietetics Placement. He recounts his journey to where he is today. “I was always falling sick as a child, my parents would take me to my father’s schoolmate – a respectable paediatrician in town. Seeing his meticulous practice inspired and motivated me to pursue a career in the healthcare industry. But as my grades were average, I looked for alternatives in the healthcare career and dietetics caught my attention. I was determined to make the most out of my results and excel. My search invariably led me to enrol with IMU. It was the first private healthcare university in Malaysia to offer the Nutrition and Dietetics programme. The profession itself is largely dominated by women. It’s even stereotyped as a woman’s career choice. Yet I wanted to make a difference; that regardless of sex, anyone with the right drive can be a dietitian.
The IMU Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Nutrition and Dietetics programme is structured to provide in-depth academic knowledge, effective practical skills, high morals and ethics in dietetics, enabling graduates to be job-ready upon graduation.
It is comprehensive, thorough and holistic; lecturers are competent, staff friendly, and facilities excellent. But theory aside, it is the 40-week internship that developed me as an all-rounded dietitian. I was able to apply evidence-based practice and critical-thinking once I started practising. Learning experiences on planning, strategising, troubleshooting, firefighting, and most importantly, managing people and situations, provided foresight in ways of the working world. My role a student ambassador and volunteer in community services in and out of IMU led me to become one of three finalists for the Student AFLAME Award 2013. Community service gave me the opportunity to contribute and show my gratitude to society. A dietitian’s career choice need not be limited to hospitals. I made a bold, new move by working at a private community clinic within a pharmacy.
I had hoped to get a job even before completing Finals. Eventually I landed one at DF Pharmacy, Kajang during final semester. I provide nutrition consultations to the community; organise nutrition-related events and workshops for groups and individuals; market nutrition services and products to consumers; and provide expert opinions on nutrition issues to the media.
As a preceptor for IMU’s Nutrition and Dietetics final year students in their Community Dietetics Placement, it was satisfying to see them combine formal study with effective counseling, practical entrepreneurial skills that I shared from working at DF Pharmacy. Receiving the Leadership in Nutrition and Dietetics 2013 award encouraged me to bring dietetics to a new level in Malaysia. In June last year, I was invited to speak at the 20th Malaysian Dietitians’ Association National Conference on Dietetics Entrepreneurship in “Setting Up a Private Community Clinic”.
As dietitians, I believe we have a strong, yet intangible influence on people’s health and quality of life. To realise that, we should challenge ourselves to become health professionals in non-hospital environments.”
The Nutrition and Dietetics programme at IMU has since been renamed Dietetics with Nutrition programme.