Research Article| Volume 52, ISSUE 4, P377-384, April 2020

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Patient Simulations Improve Dietetics Students’ and Interns’ Communication and Nutrition-Care Competence

Published:November 05, 2019DOI:



      To investigate the impact of simulated patients on dietetics students’ and interns’ communication and nutrition-care competence.


      Pre-post observational study in which students’ communication and nutrition-care competence was evaluated during the first and final clinical nutrition simulations in winter, 2017.


      University of Guelph, Canada.


      Seventeen undergraduate students enrolled in Applied Clinical Skills (NUTR*4120) and 15 graduate students/interns enrolled in Practicum in Applied Nutrition II (FRAN*6720).

      Variables Measured

      Selected communication and nutrition-care performance indicators (PI) (undergraduates = 18; graduate = 33) included in the Canadian Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice, each measured out of a maximum of 3 points.


      Grand means of communication and nutrition-care PI scores were compared across 2 time points using paired t tests, at a significance level of .05.


      Undergraduates’ (n = 15) communication and nutrition-care PI scores increased by 0.9 ± 0.35 (49.7%) and 0.8 ± 0.22 (45.8%) points, respectively (both P < .001). Graduate students’ communication and nutrition-care PI scores increased by 0.4 ± 0.45 (18.5%) and 0.7 ± 0.59 (37.9%) points, respectively (both P < .01).

      Conclusions and Implications

      Simulated patients incorporated into clinical nutrition courses increase dietetics students’ and interns’ communication and nutrition-care competence. More research using comprehensive practice-based competency assessment tools is needed in larger samples of students and interns.

      Key Words

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