“Practice what you preach, or sister tell me a different story”: Using Autoethnography to Make the Case for a New Dietetics Culture as the Foundation for Developing a Pedagogy of Compassion in Dietetics Education

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Fraser, Kathryn
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Compassion is defined as participation in the emotions, ideas, or opinions of oneself or another person, which empowers people to take overt action toward alleviating suffering. Compassion stems from a corporeal, affective ability to empathise, but experience may increase or decrease one’s ability to perform compassionate acts as compassion is developed and experienced through its personal, relational, institutional, and cultural practices. Thus, compassion is a feeling and practice that can be extended toward the self and others. Though it has received very little empirical attention, has become increasingly acknowledged as critical to well-delivered and effective health care. Explicitly addressing compassion in education is a priority for any professions that uphold values of caring and healthy equity. Dietetics is one of many health professions that purports to hold compassion as an important value. There is currently very limited literature examining compassion in nutrition and dietetics among or toward students, practitioners, or clients. However, research on the professionalization process of dietetics education indicates that the focus on objective knowledge, evidence-based learning, and competition for internship placements may generate conflict, disembodiment, isolation, and contribute to intrapersonal and/or interpersonal disconnect among students. These relational experiences run in direct contrast to what indicates a compassionate culture.
Compassion, dietetics, dietetics education