Dietitians of Canada determine accreditation through peer review processes and self-evaluations from accredited institutions. This is completed in order to determine the effectiveness of the program, which is compared against a set of defined standards established by DC. These accreditation standards are required for institutions and are not optional. The use of these standards ensures that national programs are evaluated reliably and objectively. Additionally, this solidifies the organizations is commitment to DC and its members to maintain national standards for dietetic education and entry to the profession.
An accreditation standard is a statement of expected level of quality which is created by peers. This standard is what is used for evaluation of the organization. Responsibilities to dietetic interns, the public and the profession are encompassed with adherence to these standards as programs at various institutions are required to fulfill them accordingly. Three program training models for Canada exist including:
1) The Graduate Dietetic Internship/Practicum
2) The Stage Program/Integrated/Coordinated Education Programs and
3) The Graduate Degree Practicum
All institutions differ in their level of delivery and experiential learning and have diversity in their services, programs and financing. These factors, along with each organizational structure of the organizations that sponsor and participate in the training of dietetic interns, are the fundamental focus of the accreditation program. Essentially, this is the processes to incorporate ongoing improvements.
According to the DC Dietetic Internship/Practicum Accreditation Manual, accreditation status is provided by one of four options which are available here.
Accreditation status is granted by DC on the basis of the stage of the program, i.e., new or existing, and the results of the accreditation review. Final status is communicated to the program by the DC Chief Executive Officer. Once this step is completed, it is required that every three years the organization submits an Interim Report to the Director of Professional Standards. Additionally, scheduling of an accreditation site review every 7 years is also required. MSVU was last accredited in January 2005. An external review was conducted in 2006.
The effectiveness of accreditation lies in its ability to encourage programs to effectively evaluate their own educational processes and activities and to determine that a program meets or exceeds the standards. Using principles and standards developed by DC, new dietetic internship/practicum are developed. These principles and standards are required for self-evaluation and/or accreditation of existing programs as well. Three principles exist within the DC Accreditation including 1) program management, 2) program plan and 3) program evaluation where various standards are included within these specific principles.
Internship Coordinators complete The Standards for Accreditation of Dietetic Internship/Practicum – Worksheets as the primary tool for DC surveyors to use before and during an accreditation review. Once the worksheets are completed, a site review is arranged where interviews are conducted. These interview involve the Dietetic Internship Coordinator, Interns, Dietitians/Preceptors from all practice areas (clinical, food service and community), Program Managers/Professional Practice Leaders (if they have line authority with the internship/practicum) and affiliate partners.
The purpose of accreditation is to evaluate how effectively an education program meets standards for educational quality and to encourage program improvements through positive peer review processes. The ultimate goal for accreditation is to establish and maintain the internship/practicum which provides entry level competencies for the students emerging from their specific program. DC describes competence as the interpretation and integration of knowledge, critical thinking, judgment, attitudes, skills, values and beliefs. It is the ability to do a good job as well as ability to produce and exhibit learning while transitioning from one particular situation to another. For this to be accomplished, it is imperative that individuals engage in reflective practice, practice continuous learning and demonstrate application and evaluation of their practice.
For more information, please see the Dietitians of Canada accreditation manual.