Evaluation of the contribution of nutrition and dietetic professional practice placements to competency development
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The role of professional placements in the development of dietetic competencies is widely accepted. There is a surprising lack of scholarship to assess what extent and how practice-based learning exposures contribute to competency accumulation across the different domains of practice. This qualitative study explored the experience of recent dietetic graduates whilst on placements across three domains of nutrition and dietetic practice, including clinical, food service and public health nutrition practice. This investigation focused particularly on the various factors infl uencing competency development in the placement environment. Qualitative interviews (n = 30) were conducted with recent graduates from 3 Universities in Australia, from 2 under-graduate and 1 post-graduate program. A semi structured interview technique was used to explore the experience of students whilst on each placement. These interviews were administered, recorded, and transcribed by a trained interviewer. All members of the research team reviewed the transcripts and compared, clarifi ed and interpreted the key response themes (research triangulation). Students consistently reported that professional placements forced accelerated competency development. Physical (the work environment) and interpersonal factors (such as attributes of the supervisor) were identifi ed as major infl uences on competency development. The following factors were also thematically identified as major contributors to the students learning experience: work space, organisation within departments, orientation to placement, organisational climate, supervisor communication, personality, interpersonal skills and teaching ability. Personal attributes of the student were also found to impact on competency development. These themes were consistent across practice domains. This study provides valuable evidence for academics and practitioners when developing placement programs.
Nutrition & Dietetics
Nutrition and Dietetics