News from the Swiss Association of Registered Dietitians (SVDE ASDD) 
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    A survey of dietitians in Switzerland.

    In 2017 Andrea Mahlstein and Esther Weishaupt conducted a survey of dietitians in Switzerland. The work entitled ‘occupational statistics on dietitians in Switzerland – work settings, job conditions, education and professional development of dietitians as well as their assessment of the profession’s attractiveness’ was published at the end of 2018. Currently the report has been published in English. Below is a short summary of the work, the complete article can be found under the following link: http://www.svde-asdd.ch/ernaehrungsberatung-als-beruf/

    Introduction: With 1440 qualified dietetics professionals from 1984 to 2017 [1], dietitians are one of the smaller professional groups in the Swiss healthcare system. Currently there are about 75 qualifications per year [1]. Since 2004 and 2007 respectively (French-speaking/ German-speaking Switzerland), training as a dietitian has been offered at Bachelor of Science level; previously it was a three-year vocational training course at higher vocational school level. 
    In general, little research has been conducted on the dietetic professional group in Switzerland - a last survey was conducted in 2010 [2]. For the development of the profession it is indispensable to have a well-founded and up-to-date database.

    Method: From 23.06. - 06.08.2017 a survey was carried out via online questionnaire with the aim of asking all legally recognized dietitians in Switzerland about their work, education and professional development as well as their assessment of their profession’s attractiveness. The data was processed, cleaned and evaluated descriptively and analytically with SPSS statistical software.

    Results: 756 of 1470 contacted dietitians took part in the survey. 705 participants (95.3%) were female, 35 (4.7%) male. 16 persons did not provide any information on gender. On average, dietitians in Switzerland are 40±10.7 years old and have been working in the profession for 15.3±11.4 years.
    Approximately one third of the participants (29.9%) have a diploma at higher vocational school level as their highest qualification, about two thirds (59.7%) have at least a Bachelor's degree. 46 persons (6.1%) indicate having completed a Master of Science (MSc) or Master of Arts (MA). Three persons (0.4%) have a doctorate.



    Fig. 1: percentage frequency of highest educational qualification (n=750)

    Three quarters (74.4%) of the participating dietitians work exclusively in one job. 25.5% of working dietitians have two or more positions. Of the 870 positions filled by study participants, 651 positions (74.8%) were categorized as employed and 219 positions (25.2%) as self-employed. "Acute hospitals" and "dietetic practices" were the most prevalent places of work, whilst retirement- and nursing homes or insurance companies saw few active dietitians.



    Fig. 2: Number of positions per work setting across all employments (n=869)

    79.3% of the participants (498 out of 628) who gave information on their level of dietetic employment work 50 - 100%, whilst 20.7% (130 out of 628) work below 50%. The average employment rate is highest in the 21 - 30 years age category (the newcomers to the profession) at 85%. 
    In the evaluation of the profession’s attractiveness, elements that were rated positively included "diverse and varied work", "compatibility of work and private life", "independent way of working" and the "opportunity to contribute one's technical skills as well as one's own ideas and visions in daily work-life".

    Elements that tended to be rated negatively were the "profession’s visibility", "sufficient job opportunities", "opportunities for promotion and further development" and "appropriate salary”. The average gross annual salary for a dietitian in Switzerland is CHF 82,270. The average gross annual salary for employees in various work settings ranges from CHF 71,540 to CHF 110,500 in educational institutions.

    Conclusion: The survey shows that dietitians are active in a broad range of work environments. The principal settings remain the hospital and the dietetic practice, whilst the retirement- and nursing homes settings show scope for expansion. The number of dietitians with an MSc/ Ma or doctorate remains very low in Switzerland. It is essential to educate more 

    dietitians to MSc or doctorate level for the profession’s development. Furthermore, access to up-to-date wage data is important for professional development, to enable a stronger position in salary negotiations.
     
    [1] Swiss Red Cross. (2017). Registered swiss diplomas and licences. Retrieved from https://www.redcross.ch/de/srk-dienstleistungen/anerkennung-auslaendischer-ausbildungsabschluesse/zahlen-und-fakten-aus-dem
    [2] Soguel Alexander, L. (2010).Occupational statistics on members of the Swiss dietetic association. Retrieved from http://www.svde-asdd.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Berufsstatistik_2010_D.pdf
    Mahlstein Andrea, Weishaupt Esther