Developing Canadian Entry-To-Practice Competencies - A Collaborative Process
  • Country – Canada

    Canada is preparing to release new entry-to-practice competency standards in April 2013.  These new standards have been developed through a collaboration between Dietitians of Canada (DC), ten provincial dietetic regulatory bodies, and 50 academic and practicum dietetic education programs over a three-year period. 
    In 2009, DC, dietetic regulators and educators created a new alliance called the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP). The goal of PDEP is to undertake projects of common interest to benefit the quality of dietetic services and the advancement of the profession in Canada. 
    The first priority of PDEP was to develop new entry-to-practice competencies for the profession – referred to as the Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice (ICDEPs).  This work was undertaken as a two-phase project led by a small working group of volunteers (two representatives of each of the three partner sectors) supported by a Project Manager and a Project Consultant. 
    Phase I of the project required that the working group draft a set of Job Task Statements for the Entry-Level Dietitian. The Job Tasks were validated through a national on-line survey of all dietitians in the country. Over 2200 dietitians responded to the survey, representing approximately 24% of the profession and included every practice setting and geographic region. Phase 1 was completed late 2010 and resulted in a set of statements that reflected current practice for dietitians and an assessment of what is an appropriate level of performance for those entering the profession.
    During Phase 2, Performance Indicators (PIs) for competency evaluation purposes were created. This phase of the work was supported by a significant grant from the Canadian government. Draft PIs were developed between September 2011 and January 2012, which included extensive consultation with key stakeholders in education, practice and accreditation.
    In response to a request from educators, a Foundational Knowledge section was developed to connect the practice competencies with essential foundational education required for the practice of dietetics. In September 2012, a targeted consultation was held with academic program directors to review the Foundational Knowledge Statements to ensure that they were inclusive and complete.
    Between October and December 2012, all dietetic education programs completed a survey assessing their ability to implement the academic and practicum Performance Indicators and the Foundational Knowledge. Data analysis confirmed that the great majority of the indicators were either immediately achievable and measurable, or could be included in education and practicum programs within the next two years.  The few identified areas of concern were reviewed by PDEP January 2013. The complete and final version of the ICDEP will be released by the end of April 2013.

    An implementation plan for the ICDEPs is currently being developed. The ICDEPs are integral to the accreditation process and form the basis for the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (CDRE). Over the past 9 months, an accreditation working group has been developing new accreditation standards that incorporate the ICDEPs.
    Development of the ICDEP has been a comprehensive and collaborative process and one that would not have been possible without the dedicated leadership of PDEP and the substantial good will and engagement of all dietitians and educators in Canada.
    Corinne Eisenbraun MA, RD, Director of Professional Practice Development and Marlene Wyatt MA, RD, Director of Professional Affairs