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Top awards for UC dietitian

3 June 2015: A University of Canberra academic has won two awards from the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) for her research into clinical placement practices in Australia.

Assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics Rachel Bacon received the 2015 Emerging Researcher award for the best research article from a first time author in the association's journal Nutrition & Dietetics.

Her research found that settings outside the hospital can provide appropriate experiences for students to develop and demonstrate entry-level individual case management competence, where dietetics students provide health and nutrition advice to individuals or small groups.

"To produce competitive graduates, dietetics education needs to align placement programs with the demands of the future workforce. This paper challenges the profession to consider using individual case management placements outside of the hospital setting," she said.

Ms Bacon said that providing students with clinical placements in a range of settings such as nursing homes and primary health care clinics could produce more flexible graduates with a better understanding of the continuum of care.

She added that this model of student placement may also assist to redistribute the workforce to underserviced areas.

DAA president Liz Kellett said that Ms Bacon's paper demonstrates progressive and lateral thinking.

"Ms Bacon's work identifies many opportunities for development of the future dietetic workforce and signals exciting times ahead for our profession," Ms Kellett said.

Ms Bacon also received the President's Award for Innovation for her development of an online assessment module 'Feed Our Future' a web-based program to support supervisors in their assessment of student dietitians' clinical competence.

The program uses videos to make the concept of 'competence' more tangible, providing examples of novice, intermediate and competent practice to create appropriate learning opportunities and improve assessment practices.

"This important program provides a tool that promotes consistency in student assessments across the country. It will further equip members who supervise students and ultimately strengthen our profession," Ms Kellett added.

Ms Bacon was presented with both awards at the 32nd DAA National Conference in Perth last month.