oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Experiences and attitudes of dietitians during the first compulsory community service year (2003)
Objectives. This study was undertaken to investigate the experiences and attitudes of dietitians during the first compulsory community service (CS) year (2003), to determine their perception of the success of the year as a whole and to assess whether the knowledge and skills of graduates improved.
Subjects and design. Data were collected by means of an anonymous questionnaire posted to the CS dietitians (N = 126). The questionnaire consisted of four sections: general information, demographic and logistical information, professional duties and competencies, and personal experience.
Results. Ninety dietitians returned the completed questionnaire, giving a 71% response. Thirty-nine per cent of dietitians were placed during the first round of allocation, with 48% placed during the third round or after further deliberations. Eighty-eight per cent of the dietitians reported a safe working environment. Full competency was reported by 26% of dietitians for therapeutic nutrition, 47% for food service management and 30% for community nutrition. Only 7% of dietitians found it very difficult to execute their daily duties. At the outset, 55% of dietitians had a positive attitude regarding the year, with this percentage increasing to 67% towards the end of the year. Negative attitudes decreased from 17% to 15%. Ninety-one per cent of dietitians reported that their knowledge improved and 95% reported an improvement in skills. Most dietitians (92%) felt that the CS year was a successful institution.
Conclusions. The majority of dietitians experienced the CS year positively and felt that their knowledge and skills improved. The vast majority of dietitians reported the CS year to be a successful institution.
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