The aspiring dietitians study: A pre-enrolment study of students motivations, awareness and expectations relating to careers in nutrition and dietetics.
Subjects: Sixty-three student applicants to the Griffith University Master of Nutrition and Dietetics Program over the 2002-2003 period. Main outcome measures: Attitudinal data about the motivations, competency expectations and career plans of Nutrition and Dietetic program applicants. Analysis: Qualitative content analysis. Results: Student applicants had a mix of health science and exercise science undergraduate training backgrounds, were in their early to mid-20s and were recent graduates. The most common motivations for becoming a dietitian was a long-term primary interest in nutrition, health and helping people inspired by previous experience with other dietitians, family or personal illnesses and significant others such as mothers and teachers. Approximately 30% of applicants reported being motivated by personal experiences (self or friends) with obesity or eating disorders. High-level communication and organisational skills and nutrition knowledge were the common competency expectations of dietitians among potential students. Most reported working clinically, running a private practice (particularly in sports nutrition) or in mixed practice settings with autonomy and practice diversity as long-term career aspirations. There was a generally low level of specific awareness of public health nutrition or food service management practice opportunities in the profession. Conclusions: There appears to be a need to further market the diversity of practice in the profession to senior school-age and undergraduate students so that applicants are more informed of the realities of career opportunities.
Nutrition & Dietetics
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