Practice-based Learning (placements)


Practice-based Learning (placement) is defined as “The period(s) of study and activities undertaken by learners as a formal element of their dietetic pre-registration training whilst in the practice-based learning environment. This allows learners to apply and practise their newly acquired knowledge and skills in a safe environmentBDA Curriculum Framework 2020.

Why do we need Practice-based Learning?

  • The Practice-based Learning environment offers the learner the opportunity to “pull everything they have learnt together”
  • to “become comfortable in the practice environment”
  • to “experience the time constraints, pressure and distractions of the real-life situation”

It is helpful for dietitians to reflect back on their time as a learner and what they remember learning in practice that they didn’t learn in the classroom.

What are the benefits of Practice-based Learning?

Practice-based Learning involves a range of opportunities for learner development. Learners apply and consolidate their learning, bringing together academic theory, workplace practice to develop skills and competences needed to register.

Benefits to learners

Practice-based Learning provides quality training and will provide learners with the knowledge, skills and behaviours to function in a wide range of dietetic landscapes. It can present opportunities to develop a range of ‘soft’ skills such as communication, collaboration, leadership, networking and presenting. critical appraisal skills, self-reflection and self-development. All of these different skills and abilities which may be attractive to future employers.

Benefits to dietetic staff

Practice-based Learning opportunities broaden the scope of the training to reflect the training required for a range of dietetic landscapes e.g., the inclusion of physical skills, knowledge of sustainability, greater focus on public health, research and leadership. This should provide further motivation for practice educators who should see the opportunities to welcome learners in to their teams for PBL and employment on graduation.

Benefit to organisations/service users

As a result of the above two the performance of dietetic departments to meet service user demand should increase. This may create greater efficiency and contribute to greater service user satisfaction.

At least one Practice-based Learning should be of sufficient length to enable continuity of learning and demonstrate consistency of performance and case load management in a clinical setting.

This Practice-based Learning should usually be:

  • not less than 350 hours long, and
  • undertaken on a continuous, full or part time, basis within the programme.

Programmes which include an extended academic period after the final Practice-based Learning should demonstrate how competence to practice is maintained until the point of graduation.

Other professionals or support workers with the necessary training can provide evidence of competence relating to a non-specialist competence as can dietitians with less responsibility within services. However, the final assessment should be undertaken by a dietitian in a leadership role within the organisation such as a professional lead or head of service.