Understanding the Factors Influencing Career Decisions of Chinese Dietetic Students

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Ting Tan, Ye
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The Canadian population has become more ethnically and culturally diverse. The need for ethnic and cultural diversity within the dietetics profession is paramount to improve dietetic practice. Limited research has been conducted to determine the reasons for visible minorities’ low representation in the dietetic field. In addition, there has been little research exploring academic experiences of Chinese dietetic students in Canada. The purpose of this study was twofold: Firstly, to explore the career selection factors and experiences of Chinese dietetic students; secondly, to examine the impact of these factors and experiences in order to provide a better understanding of Chinese students’ experiences thus providing a basis upon which barriers and challenges to entry into the profession of dietetics could be addressed. The study employed a mixed method research approach. Critical theory and Social Cognitive Career Theory formed the theoretical framework. The data set were made up of secondary data collected as part of a larger study (Lordly, 2008) and personal experiences of the researcher through autoethnography, which provided further insight and richness to the analysis. The sample consisted of 41 Chinese dietetic students from seven university dietetic programs across Canada who completed an in-class or online survey. This study provided findings on the career perceptions of Chinese dietetic students and insights into their academic experiences as well as factors leading them to choose dietetic as a profession. Analysis revealed that family, culture, ethnicity, gender, intrapersonal factors and career opportunities influence Chinese students’ career decisions. Family, Chinese culture and career interest were the most salient influences. The dietetics profession can reevaluate recruitment strategies and promote visible minority groups as important members of the Association. Dietetic educators need to be aware and find ways to acknowledge and address the challenges that culturally diverse students’ experiences.
Chinese Dietetic Students , Dietetic Programs , Dietetic education