• An evaluation of the University of Chester’s dietetic programmes: Do they enhance employment and meet the needs of the workforce?

      Ellahi, Basma; Bendall, Mark; Wolfendale, Christine; Walsh, Jane K. (University of Chester, 2012-06)
      Although evidence in relation to enhancing employability, readiness for practice, and meeting workforce needs, exists from previous dietetic studies in Australia, Canada, and the United States, there is a lack of research into these areas in the United Kingdom. The focus of this study, therefore, was to identify graduate and employers perceptions of the dietetic programmes offered at one of the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Institutions, namely the University of Chester. It is expected that the benefits of the findings will be twofold; firstly, they will potentially impact on the curriculum content of the University of Chester’s dietetic programme in relation to producing graduates who are fit for practice, and secondly, it is envisaged that they will improve the employability prospects and readiness to practice of dietetic graduates. Postal and email questionnaires were sent to 218 graduates from the University (response rate 27% n=59) and one-to-one semi structured taped interviews were conducted with NHS dietetic managers (n=8). Mixed research paradigms were employed. Qualitative data was analysed using SPSS (V19.0) and qualitative data analysed using thematic analysis processes. Results showed that 64% (n=38) of the graduates who responded felt satisfied that their dietetic programme ensured that they were fit for purpose as a graduate level dietitian. Significant differences existed between undergraduate and postgraduate responses in 4 skill areas namely; communication (p=0.015) interpersonal skills (p=0.013) professional attitude (p=0.015) and initiative (p=0.029). Two common themes occurred from the NHS department managers and graduate questionnaire responses, namely; the need for further development of motivational interviewing and behavioural change techniques and job application support and interview skills. In conclusion the results of this study suggest that both the needs of graduates and NHS department managers, in relation to preparedness for practice and fitness for purpose, are being met. However, graduates and NHS managers identified the development of motivational interviewing and behavioural change techniques and job application support and interview skills as an important need within the curriculum.