Ciara O'Rourke

Ciara O Rourke.png

Graduate of Masters Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition

Can you tell us your name, job title and the course you studied at ATU?

My name is Ciara O’Rourke. I am a Performance Nutritionist at Tipperary Senior Hurling. I studied the Masters Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition from September 2021 – January 2023.

Can you share your career path to date?

After secondary school, I went on to study Complementary Therapy & Health Science at GTI for 2 years following a 4-year Honours Degree in Strength & Conditioning at TUS Thurles. During this time, I completed 3rd year placement alongside Amy McGuire, the Tipperary Football Nutritionist where I gained significant experience in the role of a sports nutritionist. Throughout my time at ATU, I was appointed Performance Nutritionist at Limerick Senior Camogie & most recently assigned Performance Nutritionist at Tipperary Senior Hurling.

What does your current role involve?

My role involves being a part of a high-performance setting working within a multidisciplinary team, building relationships & organising 1:1 consultation between players & I, dietary analysis, hydration testing, anthropometric testing using skinfolds method, creating relationships with different nutritional companies like Kinetica & Avonmore, liaising with different venues to organise pre & postX X X match meals, working with players with food allergies & creating simple yet effective informative infographics for the players.

What motivated you to start studying?

I thoroughly enjoyed shadowing Amy McGuire as part of my 3rd year placement and there I discovered a keen interest in sports nutrition.

Why did you choose this course from ATU?

I remember ATU was one of the only universities advertising this course & felt it was extremely convenient as I was living in Galway.

How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging?

I found some elements studying online difficult & it can be hard to retain valuable content from the lectures especially when the lectures are more than 2 hours long. However, it was convenient to have the lectures recorded so you could watch them at a further date if you forgot any valid information. In fairness, if I ever had an issue or problem, the lecturers were helpful & gave great feedback. I found the masters semester the hardest cause you are left to your own device doing the write up & only have a certain number of calls and catch ups with your supervisor.

How did you balance work and study?

I seem to work very well when I have a crazy schedule, but I prioritised my college work before my own work most of the time. You must be able to fit in work to have an income but without a doubt, it’s more than achievable do both. I will say don’t leave yourself short on time & make a conscious effort to go for a coffee & a chat with your peers! I was very lucky, I had one of my best friends in the course, so we were able to bounce ideas off one another & help each other when needed.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?

I run my own gym/study at cor_e_performance so I was lucky I could work around my own schedule and clients were very understanding if I had to switch sessions to accomplish college deadlines & online lectures. My clientele had a great interest in my studies as I could assist them to reach their goals. 

What advice would you have for anyone considering studying?

It’s a great course, very hands on with a great support network. The placement really made the difference & you learn a lot on the outside world as a sports nutritionist.

In what way has studying online with ATU benefitted your career?

1:1 online consultation made easier being familiar with zoom, team meetings, nutritics, excel & canva.

Did this course provide any unexpected benefits to your career?

I did not expect to get involved with the ATU/Connacht Rugby partnership when picking my thesis title, but Nora guided me on the right path that led to a fascinating experience and I’m very grateful for that opportunity. In addition, I attended an HPX conference, nutrition related, & also Ruth Wood Martin’s retirement party where I got to meet some nutrition idols. Lastly, when you study such a passionate topic, any experience is a bonus, however, I did not expect to the sitting in this position 4 months after my degree assisting one of the top senior hurling counties, Tipperary as their performance nutritionist. It can only go up from here!!

Did you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-to-day role? I felt the elements we learned during our practical classes helped in my day-to-day role including player consultations, dietary analysis, hydration testing & most of all, fitting into a multidisciplinary team.

What were the key skills you took away from your time studying at ATU?

1. Communication Skills - Public Speaking

2. Essential IT Skills - Efficient with Word, Excel, Nutritics & Canva Pro

3. Interpersonal Skills – Interacting with Lectures & Classmates on a Professional Level

4. Being Creative – Informative, creative, simple infographics

5. Passionate & Hardworking – Always looking to broaden my knowledge through research, webinars & conference


Learn more about the Masters Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition