The graduate dietitian experience of employment and employability: A longitudinal qualitative research study from one Australian university

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Aims: Diet-related chronic disease contributes significantly to the global burden of disease. Dietitians are best placed to address this disease burden, yet graduate dietitians may struggle to find employment. This study aimed to explore dietetics graduates' experiences of employment and employability, up to 6-month post-degree completion. Methods: Secondary data analysis of in-depth qualitative interview data and longitudinal audio-diaries was undertaken. An interpretivist approach was employed whereby knowledge was viewed as subjective and multiple realities exist. A total of five entrance interviews, 31 audio-diaries and three exit interviews, from nine graduates were included in the analysis. This comprised 12 h of longitudinal audio data. Thematic analysis was undertaken using a framework analysis method. Results: Four key themes were identified: (1) The tumultuous process of applying for jobs demonstrated that graduates struggled with repeated rejections. (2) The uncertain journey to employment indicated that job-seeking was a limbo stage marked by uncertainty. (3) Feeling the pressure showed that graduates experienced pressure from multiple sources. (4) Enhancing employability explained that graduates were not prepared for available employment opportunities, but utilised resources to increase their employability. Conclusion: Diverse placement experiences may better prepare graduates for available employment opportunities. To enhance employability, it may be beneficial to assist students to develop job-seeking skills, and to engage in networking and volunteering experiences during their education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Volume80
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • dietitian
  • education
  • employability
  • graduate workforce
  • qualitative research

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