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Public Health Nutr. 2011 Aug;14(8):1479-88. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010002995. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Planning a graduate programme in public health nutrition for experienced nutrition professionals.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E2, Canada.



Public health renewal in Canada has highlighted the need for development and expansion of the public health nutrition workforce, particularly in northern and rural communities. The purpose of the present paper is to describe the planning of a more accessible graduate programme for experienced nutrition professionals. The planning effort was challenged by a short timeframe between programme approval and implementation and required intense collaboration with stakeholders and students.


The programme planning model developed by The Health Communication Unit (THCU) at the Centre for Health Promotion was used to guide the process. This six-step model was familiar to key stakeholders and involved pre-planning, conducting a situational assessment, establishing goals and objectives, developing strategies and outcome indicators, and monitoring feedback.


Resource constraints, short timelines and debates around distance education options presented challenges that were overcome by conducting a thorough needs assessment, creating an advisory committee, engaging key stakeholders in the planning process, and building on existing resources. Extensive involvement of the first cohort of students in ongoing planning and evaluation was particularly helpful in informing the evolution of the programme.


The THCU planning model provided a useful framework for stakeholder collaboration and for planning and implementing the new graduate programme in public health nutrition. Preliminary data suggest that graduates are benefiting from their educational experiences through career enhancement opportunities. The evaluation strategies built into the programme design will be useful in informing ongoing programme development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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