Students entering internship show readiness in the nutrition care process

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Abstract

Background

The British Dietetic Association and the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations are developing an international model for dietetics practice as an aid in providing evidence-based practice. In the USA, undergraduate programmes are mandated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) to incorporate the nutrition care process (NCP) into the curriculum so that students can use the process during their dietetic internship and later practice. The present study aimed to assess interns’ readiness in the NCP prior to beginning a dietetic internship.

Methods

Before starting the internship, the 40 interns in the 2009–2010 class of a university-based internship were sent an e-mail requesting they complete an online survey. Questions inquired about their NCP background with respect to: academic preparation, work or volunteer experiences, knowledge and confidence in ability to apply the NCP. Survey results were analysed with SPSS statistical software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).

Results

The 39 interns completing the survey indicated they had prior exposure to the NCP. All but one reported that their academic coursework covered the NCP. Approximately half of the interns worked or volunteered in settings that used the NCP. Overall, students correctly answered most of the questions assessing their basic knowledge in the NCP. Thirty-seven of the 39 interns had some confidence or felt confident in their ability to apply the NCP during internship rotations.

Conclusions

This distance internship attracts students from all over the USA, and so the findings of the present study shed light on current undergraduate preparation in the NCP.

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