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Research and teaching in nutrition and dietetics. (Letters to the Editor).

To the Editor: I read with interest the articles in the last issue of the journal which related to both research and teaching in nutrition and dietetics (1-4). I was stimulated to think of how the interface between the two might be managed. Professor Truswell's editorial began by presenting us with the challenges we face, not only in developing the evidence for practice, but also in considering how the rules are established. It is important that practitioners ensure they have input into this process, and they will do this by actively engaging in research themselves. In addition, learning the rules can become a core element of entry-level and continuing education programs for practitioners. This calls for studies in research methods and design in undergraduate curricula and in continuing education courses.

In a previous editorial, I emphasised the interdependence between theory and practice (5) and, in that framework, the position of research. Sue Ash and Lynne Daniels have provided an extensive and interesting array of approaches for practitioners in the field (2,3). The description of problem-based learning in clinical education by colleagues at Deakin University (4) provides some insights into how this might also filter through to tomorrow's practitioners, our students. By its very nature, problem-based learning asks questions. While Winter and colleagues acknowledge that the aim is 'to enhance integration of clinical theory and practice', emphasising research processes which developed this theory might be a way of injecting research thinking into what is seen as primarily a teaching domain. Likewise, the professional placement component of entry-level courses provides another opportunity in which research skills could be integrated into learning, this time in the workplace context. Projects and reports coul d be structured in such a way that they utilise scientific methods producing pieces of scientific writing.

Research and teaching may be seen as opposite sides of a coin, but like research and practice, there is interdependence. There are many opportunities to create synergies and each of us can do this in different ways depending on available resources. At the University of Wollongong, we have focused on linking research and teaching with the opportunities provided through the Australian Research Council Key Centre for Smart Foods (6). Linkages across institutions will further enhance these opportunities to ensure, as Lynne Daniels states 'a bright future for dietitians'.

Linda Tapsell

Managing Director, Smart Foods Centre

University of Wollongong, NSW

References

(1.) Truswell AS. Evidence-based nutrition [editorial]. Nutr Diet 2002;59:7-8.

(2.) Ash S. Breaking new horizons--issues for research in the practice setting. Nutr Diet 2002;59:9-11.

(3.) Daniels LA. A bright future for dietitians--where is the evidence? Nutr Diet 2002;59:29-37.

(4.) Winter J, Matters H, Nowson C. A problem-based approach to clinical education in dietetics. Nutr Diet 2002;59:23-8.

(5.) Tapsell L. Converting theory to practice and back again [editorial]. Aust J Nut Diet 2001;58:80-1.

(6.) Centre for Educational Development and Interactive Resources. VC's symposium: The teaching research nexus: enhancing the links (www.http://cedir.uow.edu.au/nexus/). Accessed 9 May 2002.
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Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:507
Previous Article:Continuing education.
Next Article:The importance of evidence-based dietetics. (Letters to the Editor).


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