15 Sep 2020

Future proofing our workforce of dietitians should be a top priority for all of us. And practice-based learning (placements) is a key part of building our workforce.

We are currently in a precarious position. There is a huge cohort of learners (students) who as part of their degree are required to complete practice-based learning. However, there are often not enough opportunities for them to complete this. As a profession, we must step up to support our workforce of the future at this critical time.

Insufficient practice-based learning opportunities poses a potential threat to dietetic courses. This will reduce numbers of dietitians and increase the number of vacant posts. This is against a backdrop where the profession is being asked to significantly grow to meet the demands of service users; for example, with more opportunities in primary care. The knock-on effect of reduced numbers of dietitians will add further pressure to services that are already stretched, and will impact on staff morale, service user experience, and the quality of nutritional care provided in the UK.

We at the BDA are working hard behind the scenes to transform the burden of paper work and show case different models of practice-based learning delivery through 3:1, remote
supervision and innovate practice-based learning opportunities in alternative settings. We also have intentions to deliver our own training package for practice-based learning
educators, applicable to all areas of dietetics. Over the next 12 months we will be dedicated to helping you deliver an increased volume of practice-based learning opportunities.

Developing learners can be extremely rewarding. It used to be one of the most satisfying parts of my job when I was working within the NHS. At the BDA we offer an innovative practice-based learning experience. Learners get the opportunity to understand how the BDA operates and the plethora of work we are involved in. Working to inspire and support, and watching a future dietitian grow can be so refreshing.

But not only it is satisfying – it is also a great opportunity to develop leadership and management skills which can be reflected in your CPD portfolio.

Experienced learners can also be an extremely helpful part of the workforce. If you’ve never been involved in practice-based learning before now is your chance! There is plenty of support and guidance on hand to help you through the process.

To secure the dietetic profession, we are asking you all to step up. Your profession needs you! Those working in the NHS, those in private practice, working in industry and freelance dietitians; training dietitians of the future is a responsibility for us all, and we all must take part. Please do your bit, and remember – you were a learner once too.

Student dietitians are our future. Developing our workforce is the top priority to ensure good nutritional care for all. We are here to support you in this mission to increase practice-based learning capacity. Let’s future-proof our workforce!

What you can do to help secure the future of the profession

Whether you’re in an NHS department, private practice or industry, get in touch with your local course provider and let them know you’d be happy to take on students on placement. 

To make sure your student placement has a top class placement experience, go to our webpages for more information or contact edpd@bda.uk.com for support.

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Chloe Adams

Policy Officer for Professional Practice, British Dietetic Association