Employing the listening guide to explore relationships that senior-level dietetics students hold with their bodies, each other, and the dietetic profession

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Petrovic, Sanja
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Purpose: Through this research, I gained a deeper understanding of the relationships that a group of undergraduate dietetic students hold with themselves and their bodies, each other, and the dietetic profession as fostered by their participation in a course-based art module. It further focused on their understanding, perceptions, impacts and complexities of body image within the realm of dietetics. Methods: The Listening Guide method was applied in the form of a secondary data analysis of reflection papers written by senior-level undergraduate dietetic students who were enrolled in a senior-level Professional Practice course at Mount Saint Vincent University. This enabled access to their individual reality by examining the multiplicity of voices found within their narratives. Results: A complex interrelationship exists between participants’ strongly felt responsibility to meet holistic, client-centred professional expectations and the unforgiving bodily expectations imposed upon them by societal norms. The contrapuntal voice of conviction captures participants’ distanced stance to their perceived future role as dietetic professionals, providing indication into their felt discomfort in directly identifying themselves in this capacity. Through the integration of self-exposure, the art module further fostered strong connection-building,strengthening participants’ development of authenticity, compassion, and understanding for themselves and each other. The inter-relationship of the contrapuntal voices of vulnerability and transformation captures the significance of their emotionally-laden, personal journeys. Finally, participants’ involvement in the art module provided them with powerful skills in effectively navigating their evolving professional and personal identity. Conclusion: This research contributes to the understanding of the professional, interpersonal, and bodily connections fostered from an arts module. This allows for a more thorough understanding of the dietetic student as a learner and individual who embodies a complex identity: an identity that closely follows transitioning into their role as future health professionals. The academic community is provided with emerging results from a previously understudied facet of dietetics: the use of the arts in enhancing learning and the manner in which the arts contribute to the development of emotionally in-tuned dietetic professionals.
Dietetic students , Arts-informed research , Dietetics - Pedagogy , Body image