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To evaluate a mentoring circle workforce development intervention among a group of public health nutrition novices.
The mentoring circle intervention focused on facilitating practice-based public health nutrition competence development and supporting reorientation of practice from clinical services to preventive services. A retrospective post-intervention qualitative semi-structured interview was used to explore the experiences of those participating in the mentoring circle and to make evaluative judgements about intervention attributes and effectiveness.
Thirty-two novice public health nutrition practitioners employed in the state public health system.
Key evaluative theme categories relating to the mentoring circle intervention were identified, including the structure and function of the group, the utility of using advanced-level competency items to guide planning, having a safe and supportive environment for learning and the utility of learning via mentoring and on-the-job experiences. These qualitative evaluation data identify the attributes of the mentoring circle intervention contributing to intervention effectiveness.
This qualitative evaluation indicates that mentoring circles can be an effective workforce capacity-building intervention, particularly in novice workforces characterised by professional isolation and split function roles.
To explore the nature, role and utility of mentoring in the development of competence in advanced-level Australian public health nutritionists.
Qualitative study using in-depth interviews.
Subjects and setting
Eighteen advanced-level public health nutritionists working in academic and practice settings in Australia.
The attributes and career pathways of the subjects were consistent with previous findings. Dissatisfaction with clinical practice was a key reason for choosing a career in public health. Experiential learning, postgraduate education and mentoring from both peers and senior colleagues were the most significant contributors to competency development. The subjects supported mentoring as an important strategy for public health nutrition workforce development and articulated the characteristics and models important for mentoring relationships in public health nutrition.
The present study suggests mentoring was an important part of competency development for advanced-level public health and community nutritionists in Australia. Mentoring programmes based on experiential learning may assist in developing public health nutrition workforce competence.
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