British Dietetic Association
Education of Dietitians in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
The British Dietetic Association was founded in 1936, one of its founding
principles was to:
“Promote the training and education of persons engaged or to be engaged, in
the science and practice of Dietetics and associated subjects“
founders clearly appreciated the need for dietitians to update themselves
regularly and consistently if their practice was to be effective and respected.
1947, the Association launched, with Newman Publishing, a journal, which over
the years has gone through many changes to become the current Journal of Human
Nutrition and Dietetics, published by Blackwells. As some members had difficulty
in accessing training we introduced in February 2002 a questionnaire associated
with one of the papers published in the journal. If correctly answered, the
questionnaire affords one hour of accredited study, bringing this traditional
tool into a new era. The Association also provided educational sessions at
General Meetings and at Branch Meetings. In the early 70’s it started to
organise Study Conferences which lasted up to 5 days and which gave the
opportunity for general updating and networking to a substantial proportion of
the early 1990’s however there has been the realisation by the public that the
self-regulation of professionals does not necessarily provide quality and safety
in practice. It has been our unfortunate experience in the UK, that
self-regulation cannot guarantee standards of professional practice. Therefore,
it has been accepted that mechanisms must be put in place, which aim to ensure
that practitioners are aware of the best evidence base in order to keep their
practice up to date. In addition, we have become aware that knowledge alone is
not enough and that practitioners need to have the capacity for self-reflection
if they are to maintain competence and safety.
2002 the regulation of the Profession of Dietetics in the United Kingdom passed
from the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine, which has been the
body responsible since 1961, to the Health Professions Council.
Although the mechanisms are not yet determined it is anticipated that the
Health Professions Council will require proof of Continuing Professional
Development for continued registration and that registrants will demonstrate
that they meet the Standards of Proficiency. It is anticipated that the CPD
requirement will be introduced in 2006.
1994, the Association launched its
Professional Portfolio for Dietitians aimed at encouraging members to record
educational experience and assisting them by providing a framework for keeping
well as the paper-based version of the portfolio, a CD version is available.
1995 the Association launched the Diploma in Advanced Dietetic Practice, which
was a major advance in the concept of continuing education for Dietitians.
features of the Diploma are:
It is gained over a period of 5 years and requires practice throughout
It requires the practitioner to undertake 100 hours of education in the 5
year period with not less than 5 hours in any one year
The Practitioner should undertake a course validated by the BDA or a
module validated by one of the recognised universities. Alternatively a paper
which has been peer reviewed can be submitted to meet this criteria.
A statement reflecting on how the individual’s practice has been
changed by the education and how it has developed must be
order to assure the quality of the Diploma, the Association has trained
assessors to assess the submissions and to assure the standard of courses and
learning accepted for the 100 hours.
feature of the Diploma is that it has a shelf life. Once obtained, its validity
is for 5 years unless the follow on Diploma in Advanced Practice 2 is
successfully completed. This has proved to be a controversial move and we
anticipate that many who successfully completed the Diploma will not appreciate
it losing its validity.
are currently 1562 dietitians registered for the Diploma in Advanced Dietetic
Practice, of these, 201 have registered for Diploma II.
of March 2003 a total of 489 Diploma certificates have been awarded.
drop-out rate for the award is approximately 8%
1998, the Association published its policy on Continuing Professional
its introduction, the Association states its commitment to assisting members to
uphold the highest standards of professional practice and develop themselves
continuously throughout their working lives. Principles were laid down and it
included this policy statement:
members are expected to structure their learning and development and keep a
record of their CPD”
defined Continuing Professional Development as:
“The process by which professionals update, maintain and enhance their
knowledge and expertise in order to ensure their continuing competence to
main principles of CPD were defined as:
individual is responsible for managing and engaging in CPD activity
learning process is one of continuity involving analysis, action and review
objectives should be clear and take account of the needs of both the
individual and the organisation
process is planned and based on identified outcomes achieved by the
Association sees CPD as the responsibility of the individual dietitian and
applies to all dietitians irrespective of the area in which they work.
It should not be viewed as additional to normal working activities but
the means by which dietitians maintain professional competence at work.
is important to remember that work itself is a learning process worthy of
recognition. CPD seeks
to formalise this experiential learning and locate it in a developmental
process, which enhances professional practice.
The dietitian should be constantly reviewing what has been learnt and
seeking ways to apply this learning in a manner, which will enhance their
practice and that of their colleagues and team.
essentially CPD is the responsibility of the individual dietitian, the BDA
recognises that the individual cannot engage in CPD activity in isolation.
Employers and managers should support the dietitian’s professional
development by encouraging learning to take place at work and through the
provision of learning opportunities. The
BDA also has a responsibility to ensure that a framework exists to give
recognition to any CPD activity in which dietitians engage.
The CPD Cycle
CPD process is continuous. It
involves the individual in
development and training needs;
planning how these needs
might be met;
implementing a plan of
must apply learning on the job;
make an assessment of the
benefits of the application of that learning;
identify further training
plan for continued
prior to undertaking CPD activity is essential and should include these key
Undertake an audit of current competence by referring to existing standards for
example the National Professional Standards for Dietitians Practising in
Healthcare and / or local departmental standards:
They should set aims and objectives to achieve work related targets and / or
Identify the knowledge and expertise required to achieve targeted goals;
4. Match expertise against current position in order to identify gaps.
The gaps identified will form the basis of a development plan
development plan should incorporate three elements:
1. Development objectives which should be divided into short term and long
term career and development aims;
The proposed action to be taken to meet identified development objectives;
Planned progress reviews to consider how far objectives have been met
is important to remember that the individual needs to focus on the learning that
has been achieved, and how this learning may be applied to enhance practice.
Reflection on day-to-day practice is an invaluable learning experience.
of CPD will invariably take a variety of forms, of which the Diploma in Advanced
Dietetic Practice may be one. For
example, certificates from courses, research and documented evidence from work
based learning such as work shadowing, in service training, project management
published framework has the following requirements:
In order to demonstrate that a state registered dietitian is keeping up
to date, the minimum level of CPD activity is at least 5 hours attendance
activity per year plus another developmental activity from a designated list,
or, pursuing an approved post-registration activity
2. The BDA will expect records to reflect a balanced mix of activities to
include professional work based activities, e.g. involvement in student
training, courses / seminars / conferences and self-directed and informal
Records must include an analysis of the learning acquired and how it was
applied to practice
Through reflection and the process of completing a record, further
development needs must be identified. Each
dietitian will have their own development plan identifying further CPD needs
are 3 Provisional Suggested CPD Categories
Professionally related courses
Feedback from courses
Branch meetings Special and interest group meetings
Employer in-service training
Assessed professional distance learning, e.g. Returners to the profession
course, Open University
Developmental Activities (Untimed)
Published papers or articles
Carrying out / presenting research
Quality assurance / clinical effectiveness
Visits to centres of excellence
Planning / running a course
Engaging in student training
Membership of BDA committees
Professional representation on a committee
PR / media involvement
Post Registration Training
Diploma in Advanced Dietetic Practice
BDA validated course i.e. the quality and content of the course has been checked
by the BDA
Higher degree relevant to professional dietetic practice
aim is that Dietitians should provide records demonstrating at least one
activity from Attendance and Developmental categories and one activity from Post
time has now elapsed since these policies were produced the Association
recognises the need to revisit and revise the policy and will do so in light of
the HPC’s framework, which we expect to be published next year.
CPD becomes mandatory it is expected that a random survey of individuals CPD
activities will be done on an annual basis.
Dietitians can expect that their development records will be checked at
least once in a five-year period
these principles started to become embedded in members thinking, the Association
became aware of a demand for a more formal and not time limited, post graduate
educational qualification. In order to meet this demand the Association has
explored the possibility of creating a MSc programme in Advanced Dietetic
Practice. To do this we are in the process of creating partnerships with a
number of Universities in order to deliver a flexible programme that can be
accessed by Dietitians throughout the United Kingdom.
National Health Service in the UK is in the process of setting up a University (NHSU),
which will deliver education and training to staff in the Health Service. It
will deliver its courses in a variety of ways and it is anticipated that it will
use the expertise of other providers to deliver specialist teaching. The BDA
hopes to become one of its partners.
have very diverse needs with respect to CPD. The BDA supports a number of
different initiatives. It has developed self-assessment questionnaires for those
who may not have access to formal education or development activities.
‘Re-entrant to the profession’ courses are run regularly. For them an open /
flexible learning programme has been developed, modules of which can be accessed
by practising dietitians wishing to update themselves in a particular area.
Specialist groups offer post-registration education and training with
independent validation of learning outcomes and quality of delivery and
assessment monitored by the Continuing Education Committee (CEC) of the BDA.
British Dietetic Association now recognises the need to establish a Centre for
Education & Development within the Association and ‘principles’ for its
establishment have emerged:
access (relating to location and to dietitians working in different types of
post and at different levels of seniority)
both internal and external to the profession
in approach, fitting in with the reality of dietitians’ working lives
led - Relevant to needs across the profession
on dietetics but not exclusive to dietitians
(promoting multidisciplinary working and shared learning)
duplicating the role of the BDA or universities
vision is of functions and services that can be collated into three main
CPD and career development
assurance of courses and for the profession: kite-marking external courses,
curriculum planning, information about approved courses, clinical governance
and development of clinical protocols
centre: information on effectiveness and evidence based practice, sharing
best practice, support for research
central co-ordinating unit would administer the CPD system and co-ordinate a
network of locally based CPD and career development advisors. It is suggested
that these advisors would work to a standard framework and would receive
training and materials from the centre but would operate on essentially a
voluntary basis. Clearly however,
such activity would count towards the advisor’s own CPD and career
are seen as being universities and other higher education institutions,
charitable or voluntary agencies, other professional associations or groups or
commercial enterprises as well as the BDA.
Some providers will deliver courses and activities specifically focused
on dietetics but others might run activities on more generic topics relevant to
a range of professional groups. Included
in this would be a cluster of universities, which would provide the MSc in
Advanced Dietetic Practice and of course the NHSU.
Although the awards may be conferred by a small number of universities, it
is envisioned that a partnership of institutions would operate a transferable
credits system allowing dietitians to take different modules from different
institutions to build up an individualised degree. The modules and awards will
be accredited by the institutions themselves and will be run on a self-financing
basis with fees payable directly to the institutions.
Centre will be responsible for quality assurance of courses and other activities
as well as a role in supporting evidence based practice and developing clinical
resource centre will also provide support for research, perhaps maintaining a
directory of research activity in dietetics.
It has also been suggested that electronic networks could be managed for
those who can offer advice on best practice in specialist areas.
this will pose significant re-organisation issues for the BDA as well as
financial risks. However there is a
high level of support for the establishment of a Centre amongst the membership.
British Dietetic Association has over
a long period supported its members to remain competent to practise.
The advent of the Health
Professions Council and its stated objective of introducing mandatory CPD as a
pre-requisite for staying on the register has been the impetus for developing
new ways of helping members to maintain their fitness to practice. It has done
this by a variety of methods and invested resources commensurate with its
aspirations, size and income. Changing views on the role and responsibilities of
professionals as well as consumer led opinion mean that self-regulation is
insufficient to maintain public confidence in the system. The Association’s
response has been to develop a range of activities for members, which will
enable them to remain competent to practise.
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