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Learning paediatric dietetics guidelines for everyday practice

Photo: Image: Pixabay from Pexels
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) has developed a paediatrics dietetics management course for clinicians designed to present current guidelines and evidence alongside best-practice ‘how-to’ guidelines for everyday practice.

Running in 2018 as a partnership with the DAA and Child Health in Life & Disease Dietetics (ChildD), the course is suitable for health students, GPs, nursing and allied health professionals – with more advanced modules targeted towards dietitians and doctors.

I interviewed one of the course facilitators Joanna Munro, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Program Manager for ChildD to get a feel for how the course is suited to clinicians both with and without specific dietetics training.

Why is it important for non-dietitians to undertake this kind of training?
Module 1 provides participants with a working knowledge and experience of evidence based practice in the areas of growth, infant feeding (breast feeding and introduction of solids), nutrition assessment and common childhood issues such as obesity, faltering growth and feeding difficulties.

From how to accurately weight/height an infant/child to accurately identifying faltering growth to having the necessary skills to address a weight issue with a child and their family, the course provides a wide range of knowledge and skills highly relevant to non-dietitians such as nursing staff who play a key role in the assessment and monitoring of growth and nutrition in paediatrics.

Dietitians are eligible for attendance at Modules 2 and 3 – this is where they will enhance their advanced practice skills in Medical Nutrition Therapy in a range of paediatric areas of practice.

What kinds of allied health clinicians (other than dietitians and nutritionists) do you often see in your training? Ie. speech pathologists?
We are still maturing and developing our courses and have only conducted 3 so far which have been focussed on dietitians. However, as the courses have evolved, it has become apparent the content is very relevant across disciplines and we are so excited to be able to target other allied health professionals, specifically speech pathologists and nursing staff who are involved in feeding and nutrition in every day practice.

Pre-course preparation includes literature reviews – how in-depth will this be? Is it something that someone who hasn’t been to university for a while will be able to manage with ease?
A list of reading material focussed on guidelines, strategic documents and key evidence is provided with links to the relevant documents, papers and websites. They provide an excellent introduction to the topics that are worked through in the courses and would be easily managed by all trained health professionals.  In fact, there is no systematic review or own searches required. The hard work is already done.

What kind of activities will the training include? 
The training will include lectures, case studies, role plays, workshops and simulated learning clips. We aim to make the training as interactive as possible to allow for plenty of questions and discussion.  This is the point of difference of this course and the feedback on the multimedia nature of the course has been excellent. 

What kind of take-home or follow-up material will be included with the course?
The take home package is extraordinary. It is designed to provide a paediatric training ‘manual’ that participants can add to as they progress in this career.  Each participant will have access to all presentations, workshops and reference lists online which they can download for personal use following the course. They will also receive a folder containing all the workshop materials which they will complete during the course.   We have had feedback that this provides an easy, ongoing, go-to that people refer to when they need help in practice following the course.  We design the courses to ensure this can be used as a manual post training.

Do you offer your training online, or have the ability to come to an organisation’s workplace to conduct training?
Online training is something we are definitely planning for the future. We are open to exploring all modes and methods of course delivery. We design each course to suit the particular participants and city we present to. The course can be redesigned and modified to suit different requirements. There is a ‘bespoke’ element to this course, making it relevant to our audiences.
The content will cover breastfeeding, introduction to solids, growth issues, obesity and cerebral palsy difficulties – are there other common problems in childhood that it doesn’t cover, or that it might cover if you have enough time/participant interest?

Within these topic areas, we touch on other common problems in childhood such as fussy eating, iron deficiency and provide relevant references and resource lists. As the course is interactive, we are able to discuss other relevant nutrition issues of interest to a participant either within the course or during breaks.

The course is held on the Gold Coast, with Module 1 starting on 5 March 2018. Registrations close 20 February 2018, and DAA members receive a substantial discount.
For more information see DAA’s website or email


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Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith writes freelance articles as a medical, science and technology specialist. She is researching health journalism at Griffith University and lives mostly on Twitter @smsmithwriter (and would love to hear from you).