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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2018 Nov 1;79(4):176-180. doi: 10.3148/cjdpr-2018-014. Epub 2018 Jun 12.

Opportunities and Challenges for Practical Training in Public Health: Insights from Practicum Coordinators in Ontario.

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a School of Nutrition, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON.


Dietetic educators and practicum coordinators (PC) play critical roles in preparing students for practice. Dietitians have made significant progress in the development of educational curricula, competencies, and other resources to support knowledge and skill attainment in public health. There are identified gaps in the literature concerning practical training in sustainable food systems and public health, creating barriers in knowledge exchange and improvements in practicum programs in Canada. This paper discusses the potential opportunities and challenges associated with the number of placements for practical training in public health based on interviews with PCs in Ontario. The findings are limited to the perspectives of 7 PCs with experience in practical training and are a starting point for ongoing evaluation. Identified opportunities within traditional and "emerging settings" for practical training in public health included: the uniqueness of the experience, the potential for students to learn outside their comfort zones, and greater possibilities for dietitians in new roles and settings. Challenges included the need for significant PC engagement with nondietetic preceptors and a narrow view of dietetic practice among some dietitians. Interprofessional teams, emerging settings, and flexible learning approaches may create and support practical training opportunities in food systems and public health going forward.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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