Implementation and Evaluation of a Virtual Mentoring Program Within a Dietetic Internship and Didactic Program in Dietetics
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The research project will provide the intern with the opportunity to address a need related to dietetics. The intern will utilize the systems theory and process approach to identify a research need, develop and implement a research design and method, analyze results and apply findings in dietetics practice.
CRDN 1.4 Evaluate emerging research for application in dietetics practice
CRDN 1.5 Conduct projects using appropriate research methods, ethical procedures and data analysis
CRDN 3.3 Demonstrate effective communications skills for clinical and customer services in a variety of formats.
CRDN 4.4 Apply current nutrition informatics to develop, store, retrieve and disseminate information and data
In 2017, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) recognized the need for mentoring with the dietetics profession. New competencies were introduced for Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD) and Dietetic Internships (DI). Mentoring gives the opportunity to both mentor (dietetic intern) and mentee (DPD student) to benefit from a relationship. In a mentoring relationship, the mentee gains skills, knowledge and confidence towards a goal while the mentor gains inspiration through providing counsel and guidance. The Queens College Dietetic Internship and Didactic Program in Dietetics Mentoring Program was first developed in 2017 with the goal of promoting mentoring and providing support to students. This program was typically initiated in person, however this year the program was expanded upon and completed fully virtually. Providing support to students as they prepare to apply for dietetic internships is beneficial as the dietetic intern has just completed the process the DPD students are now going through. This study introduced the mentoring program to the mentors and mentees as a group, and then split the mentors and mentees into pairs based on interests in the field and availability. A pre-program and post-program survey measuring knowledge, attitudes and beliefs surrounding mentoring was given to both the mentors and mentees. Results showed that 100% of mentor and mentee participants were interested in mentoring in the future, and that participants found online mentoring to be just as effective as traditional mentoring. Limitations and recommendations for future studies are discussed.