Assessing professional practice : a focus on dietetics

Rees, Gail (2006) Assessing professional practice : a focus on dietetics. Investigations in university teaching and learning, 3 (2). pp. 115-122. ISSN 1740-5106


Over the last decade, reviews of medical and nursing education have led to the emphasis of attainment of key skills rather than just knowledge (GMC, 1997; Epstein and Hundert, 2002; DH, 1999) Dietetics is a much smaller profession allied to medicine, but some academics and practitioners have recognised the need for the robust assessment of clinical skills. There are "many challenges to those educating pre-registration dietetics students including integration of a system of objective monitoring of skills and the generation of a robust assessment tool" (Pender and de Looy, 2004). Previously all dietetics students had one six-month period of clinical placement, but recently this has changed to 3 shorter placements. This has highlighted the need to assess skills progression so that the student, academic tutor and next placement provider are all equally aware of the student’s attainments and specific areas that need improvement in the next placement. Dietetics students are gradually introduced to the professional world by observing a dietician in practice. They then take over small parts of the interview, obtaining relevant medical and diet history, and finally give dietary advice. This will be observed by the supervising dietician who will then pass judgement on the student’s progress and give feedback. It is this assessment of observation in clinical practice that requires some standardisation to ensure validity, reliability, objectivity and transparency. It is within this context that the assessment criteria (AC), previously devised by a multidisciplinary group of London Metropolitan University staff (including M. Betteney, M. Doyle and G. Rees), will be developed specifically for dietetics.

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