International Professional Development: Building cultural competence and sharing dietetic knowledge through travel
This international exchange program took place in August 2015, after a request by the co-founder/director of Dietitians Explore! Education Exchange Inc. (DE), a non-profit organization located in Toronto, Canada, to the ICDA representatives from the German National Dietetic Association. Through intense e-mail communication, a dynamic itinerary was developed to give an overview of the key fields in which German Dietitians work. Prior to arriving in Germany, the co-founder/director of DE! worked with each student individually to select an assignment to be presented at the end of the trip and to set learning goals that would be pursued throughout the trip. The three Canadian students (in their third and fourth year of University studying food and nutrition), accompanied by the cofounder/director of DE!, participated in an interactive and professional development program and were mentored by German Registered Dietitians.
The program took place during one week. On Monday, the experience started by spending the day at the VDD /German NDA in Essen. The President, Ina Lauer welcomed the students and explained the main goals of the German NDA. A report about German nutritional standards and eating habits rounded out the induction day. On Tuesday, the Canadian students joined German students for a day in a German Dietitians’ school. The timetable provided lectures in Dietetic education in Germany and a practical, menu planning course in the afternoon. The day allowed plenty of time for networking between the students. On Wednesday, the morning was spent visiting a local market guided by the German NDA president and the afternoon allowed the students to have some free time for touring and working on their presentation. Thursday offered a different experience, with an in-hospital foodservice tour and a lecture on Sousvide.
||(left: Lilisha Burris, Ursula Lukas, Manuela Thul und German NDA President Ina Lauer)
This included a demonstration of the technology used to collect meal requests from patients, the process of how this system regenerates the menu components and finally delivers meals to the patient on the ward. The students also had the opportunity to taste samples of the meals. Later that day, each student shared a presentation about the learning that had taken place throughout the exchange. The presentations highlighted professional development in cultural competence with specific examples related to food, dietetic practice and social cultural experiences. On Friday, the last day of the program, the students visited a clinical dietitian team at a hospital and gained insight into enteral nutrition, including patient observation and sampling of enteral feeding products. They also learned about screening for risk of malnutrition.
To conclude the experience, the co-founder/director of DE! had individual meetings with each student to reflect on learning and evaluation.
There are as well positive outcomes to mention for the organizers: The abstract was accepted to be presented in a round table presentation at the ICD in Granada in order to inform participants about that traveling experience. Moreover, students reported about their trip at their universities which may lead to a co-operation in the near future, eg. practical placements for Canadian students in Germany. One student discovered their wish to gain more international dietetic experience and decided for an internship in Australia.
Diätassistentin, DKL VM/DGE, Ernährungsberaterin/DGE
Referatsleiterin Internationales Komitee, VDD
VDD Delegierte für EFAD, ICDA