Program Revamp FAQs

Q: What day of the week will UBC-led academic days be, and will this take place every week? Will this impact student learning in the practicum setting for 4-5 week placements?
A: Currently, UBC is not set on what day would be best – further discussion and stakeholder input is needed. The idea is that UBC will increase the resources to support the students and relieve preceptors, especially at a time when the program is actively changing. The practicum piece is still developing.

Q: When will the transition period occur for the existing program practice education placements (PEP) and the revised PEP model?
A: There will be an overlap in May 2022 for approximately 4-5 weeks when the Dietetics 2021 cohort (Year 5 students) will be in PEP, and the Dietetics 2023 cohort (Year 3 students) will be entering PEP. There will be ongoing communication prior to that period of time, and much planning to help mitigate challenges that may come from this temporary transition period.

Q: What areas will the additional practice placements be in?
A: Practice settings which are being underutilized will be explored, such as long-term care, group homes, complex care facilities, and private practice settings in different areas across the province.

Q: How will practicum placements be done for remote/Indigenous practicum
experiences if not by health authority?

A: We are exploring how to tap into available resources across the province so that students can get rural exposure but not necessarily depend on a Health Authority. Rural settings are being explored, and we are hoping to have smaller settings once the decision is made on what “rural” means for the program. For Indigenous health-focused placements, we will be inviting Indigenous community members to provide feedback and help shape how this might look for effective partnerships with UBC Dietetics. Teaming students up is an option to lessen the financial burden when they are placed in rural/remote settings.

Q: Scheduling students in the summer is really challenging with staff vacations. Is
there an option to try to avoid July and August for practice education placements?

A: We are trying to be very cognizant of this to ensure student success and avoid preceptor burnout. The plan is also to have more UBC support to help with student coordination and support. We are open to looking at creative options for student scheduling during the summer. It is not possible to eliminate summer placements and complete the program within a timely fashion while also meeting accreditation hours for practicum.

Q: Will the Nutrition Care modules during practicum be the same in the MND program as in the undergraduate program?
A: Our plan is to have each level well defined for the students and the preceptors. We are exploring options such as having Level 1 being outside of a health authority setting. Instead, we want to utilize long-term care placements, private practice, and other underutilized management positions. We understand that most dietitians in BC hold a Bachelor’s degree. We want to build confidence in the preceptors and reassure them that they have experience to mentor graduate-level students.

Q: What have been the identified concerns from health authorities regarding splitting up the placements?
A: Overall there is support from health authorities for revamping the program, and there are a few concerns. A concern is the amount of administrative work required to set up a student for a nutrition care placement and accordingly, many health authority representatives indicate the desire for a longer placement. A proposed model would be to have Level 1 students take place outside of a health authority, but have Level 2, 3, and 4 be within a health authority.
A big concern raised was the expansion of the program while doing the revamp. In response to this, UBC has committed to revamping the program and ensuring the new program design runs smoothly before increasing total student numbers significantly. One way to address bias within health authority placements is to have students placed with more than one health authority to diversify their experiences and have equal opportunity for all students. This model would better align with other health professional training programs.

Q: Will there be an instructor on site for the dietetics students while they are doing their practicums?
A: A goal is for UBC to be a lot more involved with practicums. Ideally, there will be 1 dedicated full-time staff member supporting preceptors. There are budgetary constraints from the university in increasing human resources, and therefore increasing direct support for students and preceptors during practice education placements.
Another goal is to address the lack of provincial government funding for the dietetics program, as dietetics does not receive funding for its program like other health professional training programs.

Q: What would additional UBC support look like? Will it focus on supporting students who struggle during PEP?
A: UBC plans to have more team members’ time working on helping with the restructuring. Over time the plan would be to have someone to focus specifically on student placement planning and preceptor support, and utilize current staff to explore what the practice education planning will look like in the new iteration before transitioning this staff to provide additional program support.

Q: Indigenous placements: could students be placed in areas that don’t have dietitians yet? There is a lot of value in engaging with the Indigenous communities and learning from Elders.
A: As part of accreditation, dietetics students have to demonstrate competencies outlined by the Accreditation Standards while being supervised. There is no requirement that preceptors must be dietitians. Utilizing non-dietitian preceptors who are qualified to supervise students can be a creative way to integrate traditional Indigenous education for dietetics students. UBC Dietetics is committed to integrating cultural safety and cultural humility as part of the program on all levels. The program is exploring the possibility of an Indigenous placement advisor to assist with this initiative, including engaging with the community stakeholder of Indigenous communities to see how/if they would like to see dietetics students partner with their communities.

Q: Will the practice education placements for the MND be shorter than in the undergrad?
A: In total, there will be 38 weeks for the undergraduate program and 39 weeks for the Master’s program.

Q: How will the curriculum changes impact preceptors? Will preceptors be taking on more students?
A: UBC is aiming to engage with more preceptors and in different practice areas to allow for more preceptors rather than just giving more students to the same preceptors. The plan is to keep the students numbers the same while the program transitions, and then an expansion will occur.

Q: If more students will be placed in private practice placements, will this diminish their skills for acute care settings (where many graduates work in soon after graduation)?
A: Nutrition Care competencies can be achieved in placements in a variety of settings, including private practice clinics and acute care settings. As an accredited institution, it is our mandate to ensure students demonstrate all competencies needed for entry-level practice as a dietitian, regardless of nutrition care setting. UBC appreciates that the majority of employment opportunities in BC are in health authorities. However, as our ultimate goal is to expand the program, we will be seeking out areas of practice outside of health authorities that will help students meet the nutrition care competencies as outlined by ICDEP v.2.0 (and eventually v.3.0 once it is implemented) while dispersing the preceptor load from existing resources.

Q: How does the program plan to address and implement the new 2020 UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan, specifically “Goal 4: Indigenizing Our Curriculum”?
A: The Dietetics Program at UBC is committed to integrating Indigenous-focused curriculum within all dietetics core courses in the program. One project already underway is a collaboration with McGill University on creating modules for course instructors to integrate Indigenous perspectives in core dietetics courses. In the MND program, we have enlisted the help of a dietitian who identifies as Indigenous to develop a specific Indigenous Health in Dietetics course. The goal is to eventually create an undergraduate-level course equivalent.

Q: Is there any consideration around trauma-informed practice in the program?
A: Trauma-informed practice is an important topic which should be included throughout the program curriculum. These topics will be addressed directly in the Indigenous Health in Dietetics course (MND Program) in addition to the counselling course (offered in both BSc and MND Program). We had the privilege of having our Indigenous health course be developed by a dietitian who identifies as indigenous and works in indigenous communities. There will be a lot of opportunities for self-reflection and understanding of Indigenous history.

Q: Will there be a business and entrepreneurship course included in the undergraduate program?
A: Yes – FNH 415 “Business Concepts in Food and Nutrition” is already included in the undergraduate program and covers foundational business concepts, but it is not dietetics-specific. The masters level course is tailored more for dietetics business and entrepreneurship and the goal would be to eventually to have a course like this for the undergrad program.

Q: Will electives be removed from campus courses in the current model?
A: No, electives remain in the undergraduate program – the revamped curriculum has reduced electives from 12 credits to 9 credits. In the Master’s program, there is no mandatory elective credits required, but students may choose to take elective courses on top of the required course load.

Q: How will the FNH 340 (Food Theory) and FNH 341 (Food Theory Applications) courses be combined?
A: These two courses will be combined into one course, FNH 340 (Food Theory and Applications) for a total of 4.5 credits (currently 6 credits total). The lecture will be 1.5-hours per week, and there will be an associated 3-hour food lab component each week. It is imperative students develop the applied skills in the lab, so the time allocated will remain the same. The reason behind this change is the overlap in ICDEP competency mapping, in addition to feedback from students that the courses overlap greatly.

Q: Students in the current model can sometimes struggle during Nutrition Care placements. Will the new curriculum changes address this?
A: UBC will be adding an additional clinical course in 3rd year for the undergraduate students in addition to a counselling course. Further, earlier exposure to practice settings can really help refine students’ learning once they can bring the context from their placements back into the classroom component. Students will be able to identify earlier their strengths and areas for improvement. The goal is also to increase UBC educator supports to help with students who may struggle during certain placement rotations.

Q: Can a basic pharmacotherapy course be added to the dietetics curriculum, if it hasn't been added already?
A: We recognize pharmacotherapy as an advantageous skill as part of the Nutrition Care domain of dietetic practice, but it is not included in accredited entry-level dietetic practice competencies. Pharmacotherapy is covered from a basic standpoint as it relates to specific dietetic practice in the Nutrition Care course series, as well as in professional practice courses. The curriculum is already quite heavy for students, and there is not much space to include more coursework. This topic area will be explored in the future.

Q: Why was a capstone project chosen for the Master of Nutrition and Dietetics program?
A: There needs to be a differentiation between the undergraduate and graduate research projects. The capstone project will be done in pairs and the students will be teamed up with a research preceptor. The projects are not the same level of intensity as a thesis-based research project.

Q: Will the capstone research projects for the MND program be UBC-based only?
A: No, the capstone research projects will have students paired with a research preceptor from a variety of settings and practice areas and will not be limited to UBCbased research projects.

Q: Will the research component be shorter in the MND program than in the undergraduate program?
A: There will be a research component in the MND program, but we haven’t mapped out the specific details on how the practicum will be broken down week by week. There will be some dedicated time during HUNU 579 (PEP 1) in the MND to work on research-related activities in order to successfully move onto HUNU 581 (PEP 2: Capstone Research). We will continue to elicit feedback from the community regarding mapping out the placement weeks and schedule, as each practice domain has indicated a desire for increased length of student placements.

Q: Will the Master’s program be available for internationally trained dietitians to be able to practice in BC?
A: Yes. Applicants to the MND program will need to have an undergraduate degree and meet specific pre-requisite requirements, similar to other allied health programs. The goal is to have the MND program accredited and therefore meet practice requirements for internationally trained dietitians to practice dietetics in BC.

Q: Will each health authority need to increase the number of students they can support each year? Will the health authorities have to plan how this looks?
A: In the current practicum model, there is a significant emphasis on student placements within one health authority over 39 consecutive weeks, and therefore significant resources and coordination is required from each health authority. In the new proposed practicum model, practice education placements will be more spread out during the program (in Y3, Y4, and Y5 for the BSc program; and Y1 and Y2 for the MND program). Ideally, students will be placed in multiple health authorities to increase student exposure to a variety of practice settings and geographic regions to enrich student learning, similar to other medical, nursing, and allied health training programs. One proposed model is discussing how many weeks or placements each health authority will host per year, rather than how many students per year (as in the current model). The goal is not to exhaust current preceptor and health authority resources. At the same time, there are new placements and preceptor resources across the province not yet
partnered with UBC which can be explored, based on previous stakeholder surveys. All of these strategies will be employed to improve preceptor capacity for student placements across the province in a more sustainable model.

Q: For a few years, there will be fewer dietitians graduating before the number will go up. Do the numbers add up?
A: UBC’s first priority is to successfully flip the framework, and only when all stakeholders feel ready will we increase the numbers of students in the program. The undergraduate program may admit fewer students in a particular year, but there will be more graduate students accepted so that the numbers are maintained. Right now, the focus is on making sure that everyone is comfortable with the new structure, but more work will be done.

Q: How Many people are expected to enrol into the Master’s Program?
A: We are expecting to eventually enrol 15 students overall, but for the first year the program is offered (Fall 2022), we are expecting around 8 students.

Q: Will the increase of 3-4 students per year be for both programs or just the undergraduate program?
A: We are hoping to keep the admission numbers the same for some time, which would mean decreasing the number of undergraduate students accepted when the Master’s program is first launched. The goal is to have 50 students total from Master’s and Undergraduate students (not 50 for each program).

Q: Will there be additional financial burden for students with the curriculum changes?
A: The flipped undergraduate program will have small financial impact on student tuition, as there is a net increase of 2.5 credits. There also may be some financial implications for students if they need to relocate for placements not in their primary residence, similar to other allied health training programs. The expectations for financial costs associated with the program will be clearly outlined for students on application websites so students can plan ahead for the cost of their education. Current program costs are lower than many other health professional programs, most of which are seatbased funded by the BC provincial government. Dietetics is currently not funded by the provincial government, and all tuition costs directly fund operations of the program.

Q: Will there be any financial supports available for students?
A: There is a bursary actively in the works for students in the program needing financial support. In the master’s program, there will be 4% of program revenue set aside for student financial aid. Master’s level students also may have access to funding opportunities not often available to undergraduate students.

Q: What will be the differentiating factors between the undergraduate and master’s program in terms of job qualifications? Will there be a dichotomy, and how will this impact the workplace?
A: It’s a similar concern that came up with the Doctor of Pharmacy and Masters of Social Work entry to practice programs (currently exist) and previously when the Bachelors of Occupational Therapy and Bachelors of Physical Therapy existed along with the Master’s equivalent. We will be employing similar strategies to clearly outline differences in skill set and expectations. Both the undergraduate and master’s dietetics programs will aim to meet entry-to-practice accreditation requirements (accreditation for the MND and re-accreditation for the BSc is planned for Spring 2022).
Masters students are not meant to replace the undergraduate cohort once they graduate. The Bachelor’s cohort still has some components that are not there in the Master’s program, such as the Land, Food, and Community (food systems) course and electives. The idea is that the two programs will be complementary. Master’s students might be more equipped for supervisory and managerial roles given they may have prior work experience after completing their previous undergraduate degree. This topic will continue to be discussed with community members. When it comes to different pay grades, we need to consider this in the near future. The Ministry of Health supports the idea that dietitians should be in more leadership roles. The undergraduate program will remain the core of dietetics education in the province. It might be possible that, sometime in the future, dietetics will become a  Master’s entry to practice level only (similar to the USA), but this has not been confirmed by PDEP. Job postings might change language as a result of the Master’s program.

Q: Is there thought of offering an expedited Master’s program for dietitians who
already have a Bachelor's degree?
A: Yes, the program is in discussion to create a master’s degree targeted at dietitians with a Bachelor’s degree. It is likely to be a course-based Master’s degree. There is potential that the themes identified in the development of the MND program will be used for the advanced practice dietetics Master’s. The idea is to be able to tailor the Master’s program for the practicing RDs who would like to further their education.
There is also a possibility of offering shorter certificate programs that could act as continuing education, as well as lead into the Master’s program. These certificates could be offered to other healthcare disciplines who are interested in nutrition/dietetics.

Q: If certificates in nutrition/dietetics are offered to other healthcare professionals, would that increase the competition for the dietitians? The public might prefer to see a physician or other healthcare professional who also has a dietetics certificate.
A: We are not aware of such cases happening in Canada so far. If this occurred, it would be a regulatory issue the College of Dietitians of BC would address. The MND program will be available to people with an undergraduate degree in areas other than dietetics.

Q: Can people with a Bachelor’s in nutrition who have worked for many years apply to the Master’s program?
A: Yes, if they don’t have a dietetics degree. The MND program is not meant for students with Bachelor’s in dietetics.