A newly qualified doctor whose campaign to put diet and nutrition on the medical curriculum has seen her work honoured with a prestigious Diana Award has praised the College of Medicine for helping to inspire her.
The awards are given out by the charity set up to honour the memory of the late Princess of Wales and celebrate achievements of young people who work to improve the lives of others.
Bristol University medical student, Dr Ally Jaffee, 25, the College of Medicine’s student nutrition lead, was among this year’s recipients; the award recognises Dr Jaffee’s efforts to make diet and nutrition a core part of the UK curriculum for medical students.
Her campaign began while she was a second year student, after she was left shocked by how little training UK doctors were given about nutrition during their five years of study.
Poor diet can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease, and Dr Jaffee felt that few qualified doctors were able to address this key issue.
Ally and fellow student Iain Broadley decided to act; setting up a community interest company called Nutritank which advises UK medical schools on teaching students about diet and nutrition.
Nutritank launched at the University of Bristol in 2017 and now works with more than 25 UK medical schools.
- College members: Our community’s voice
- How to avoid NHS staff burn-out
- How Laughter Yoga helped me to recover from depression
Dr Jaffee explained: “While at Bristol University I realised just how little emphasis the medical profession puts on diet and lifestyle, despite the huge impact they have on people’s mental and physical wellbeing and future health.
“Having a lifestyle that benefits us is so important, not just for physical health but also our mental health. I wanted to put nutrition squarely on the curriculum so that the next generation of doctors can be equipped to prescribe ways for patients to help themselves.”
The young doctor praised College of Medicine Chair Dr Michael Dixon for helping her to speak out, saying: “I joined the College in 2016 in the summer of my first year at medical school after being a student volunteer at the Summer 2016 College Food and Medicine conference.
“I met Dr Michael Dixon there and later became the College’s national student nutrition lead. Michael has been a guiding force and light to me from the beginning of medical school.
“He has supported me and nurtured my inner fire akin to his, that is to make healthcare more holistic.”
Dr Jaffee (pictured left with Dr Michael Dixon), who has spoken about her work at several College of Medicine events, said she would be ‘forever grateful’ to the College of Medicine for ‘encouraging me to have the courage to share my voice’.
The Diana Award is given to a handful of people around the world each year for ‘going above and beyond in their daily life to create and sustain positive change’.
On winning the award, Dr Jaffee said it had come ‘out of the blue’ but that she was delighted to see ‘the work that Nutritank is doing being recognised by such a prestigious scheme’.
She said: “Princess Diana was truly inspirational: a dedicated humanitarian who embraced leadership, activism and philanthropy whilst exuding kindness and passion.”
Dr Jaffee finished at the University of Bristol in June 2021 and is now a junior doctor. She now hopes to put nutrition, diet and lifestyle on the map for the whole of the NHS.