Professional development needs in nutrition and dietetics

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James, Genevieve Elena

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Background. Continuing education has long played a role in the maintenance of professional competence of nutrition and dietetics professionals. Due to the lack of published continuing education research in nutrition over the last 15 years, very little is known about the adequacy of continuing education resources for today’s nutrition and dietetics professionals. Objective. To examine the continuing education needs of nutrition and dietetics professionals. Design and Methods. A cross-sectional survey study of nutrition and dietetics professionals who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin Didactic Program in Dietetics and/or Coordinated Program in Dietetics. A survey was constructed and content-validated to assess continuing education needs in specific areas of nutrition. Descriptive statistics was used to report the results. Measures. Demographics, areas of focus in continuing education, continuing education activity preferences, targeted levels of competence in continuing education, and learning needs. Results. 54 surveys were returned. Of those 54, 41 were able to be used for analysis. Most of the participants worked in clinical nutrition (64.7%) and/or in nutrition education (38.2%). 75.6% of participants chose continuing education activities based on convenience and accessibility in their areas of interest. 63.4% of participants reported that their continuing education learning needs were not being met in at least one of their areas of focus in continuing education. Conclusion. Despite the emphasis on continuing education in the nutrition field, most of the participants reported unmet learning needs in some capacity. Further investigation into the adequacy of continuing education resources in nutrition is needed.


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