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Practice learning a prelude to work: studies by DIETS2

Anne de Looy (School of Health Professions, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Anastasia Markaki (Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece)
Sofie Joossens (Department of Health and Technology, University College, Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Aspasia Spyridaki (Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece)
Vasiliki Chatzi (Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Sitia, Greece)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The aim of this study is to describe placement learning opportunities for student dietitians related to future fields of work.


An online questionnaire determined the variety and duration of pre-qualifying practice placements across Europe. Responses from members of the Thematic Network DIETS2 in Europe (n = 39) were analysed.


A response rate of 61 per cent from 19 countries (39 higher education institutions or national dietetic associations) is reported. Four sub-types of placement are used by the respondents for pre-qualifying dietetic students. Placements are in public health, education and social care (28 per cent); clinical (27 per cent); catering (20 per cent) and others (25 per cent), including the food industry. Median number of weeks in the location was 12 for clinical settings; 5 for health, education and social care; 4.5 for in catering and up to 7 weeks in other locations.

Research limitations/implications

If dietitians and nutritionists are to contribute fully to Health 2020 and Europe 2020 agendas for improving the health of the workforce, which is fundamental to improve productivity and lessen absenteeism, then alerting them to diverse strategies and practical implementation as seen in practice is highly important. Developing competence, brought about by engaging in a diversity of practice-based learning, would enable dietitians to meet multidisciplinary and multidimensional roles required to improve European nutritional health.

Practical implications

Clear learning outcomes and competence statements are critical for guiding practice-based learning.


The diversity of locations of placements needs to be promoted and exploited by higher education for health improvement.



Members of the DIETS2 Work Package “Supporting Work based and/Placement Learning”, all those partners who answered the survey questions and Caroline Liddell who support the analysis of the data. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission and reflects the views only of the authors.


de Looy, A., Markaki, A., Joossens, S., Spyridaki, A. and Chatzi, V. (2015), "Practice learning a prelude to work: studies by DIETS2", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 112-124.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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