Development of nutrition science competencies for undergraduate degrees in Australia
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The need for updated competencies for nutrition scientists in Australia was identified. The aim of this paper is to describe the process of revising of these competencies for undergraduate nutrition science degrees in Australia.
METHODS AND STUDY DESIGN: An iterative multiple methods approach comprising three stages was undertaken: 1. Scoping study of existing competencies; 2. Exploratory survey; and, 3. Modified Delphi process (2 rounds) involving 128 nutrition experts from industry, community, government and academia. A ≥70% consensus rule was applied to Rounds 1 and 2 of the Delphi process in order to arrive at a final list of competencies.
RESULTS: Stage 1: Scoping study resulted in an initial list of 71 competency statements, categorised under six core areas. Stage 2: Exploratory survey-completed by 74 Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) members; 76% agreed there was a need to update the current competencies. Standards were refined to six core areas and 36 statements. Stage 3: Modified Delphi process-revised competencies comprise five core competency areas, underpinned by fundamental knowledge, skills, attitudes and values: Nutrition Science; Food and the Food System; Nutrition Governance, Sociocultural and Behavioural Factors; Nutrition Research and Critical Analysis; and Communication and Professional Conduct; and three specialist competency areas: Food Science; Public Health Nutrition; and Animal Nutrition.
CONCLUSIONS: The revised competencies provide an updated framework of nutrition science knowledge for graduates to effectively practice in Australia. They may be used to benchmark current and future nutrition science degrees and lead to improved employability skills of nutrition science graduates.