Training and Education – Your best investment for the future!

Workshop delegates at FANUS conference

It is hard to dispute that education is vital to us all. Education for life skills is fundamental, but from there on education can be interpreted in a number of ways; it can teach us about the world around and help us answer a host of questions in life. It is also vital in the workplace, enabling us to perform with knowledge and reassurance.

Nutrition is an ever expanding field which is becoming increasingly competitive so there has never been a more important time to keep up with new research, policy and guidelines. Continuous professional development (CPD) is absolutely necessary on many levels but particularly to update and maintain nutrition knowledge and learn new skills. Education is vitally important but so is training; there is a distinct difference. Never before has the importance of undertaking bespoke training on various areas within the nutrition area – not just knowing about nutrition science, but about how to do something with that knowledge - been more vital than today.

The Society’s Training and Education events have been developed to facilitate the practical application of nutritional science through an exciting mix of CPD endorsed theoretical and practical workshops, training sessions and courses. ‘Dietary Assessment Methods’ and ‘Statistics for Nutrition Research’ continue to be extremely popular – often selling out well in advance - and on the annual training calendar, but we do not sit on our laurels. Nutritionists work in a variety of areas either at an individual or population level within a range of areas of nutrition science. There will be common training needs across the groups, but we recognise there are often more specific training needs within various groups.

As a start, a training needs analysis was recently undertaken through the Nutritionists in Industry was recently undertaken. The results were quite apparent. The survey ascertained the clear need for more knowledge-based training in food and nutrition policies in general and, in particular, improved understanding of how to influence policy development and implementation. In addition, many respondents believed they would benefit from soft skills training to address challenging demands and conversations when managing and communicating scientific knowledge to non-scientific audiences. To help meet some of these needs, a new workshop entitled ‘Introduction to Food Policy’ has been developed and is one set to make a regular appearance in the annual training calendar. This one day workshop explores what a policy is, what prompts a policy to be developed and reviewed. It also offers an overview of the policy cycle and the factors that organisations have to consider when deciding the details of a policy and includes group work and discussions.

Other regular additions will include webinars and we have already started to explore and deliver this training medium. Webinars do not, and cannot of course, replace face to face learning, but do offer a great deal of flexibility to both deliverer and course participant alike as they are accessible from anywhere, on any device, Webinars avoid the need for those taking part to be in any one physical location offering a huge advantage to all, particularly for those not based in the UK. To date we have attracted a number of International delegates from other countries including Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Portugal and the USA. In theory, there is no maximum number of attendees who can take part in a webinar but it is currently our intention to keep numbers relatively small to allow for participants to ask questions that are clearly answered.

Training and Education does not confine itself entirely to the UK these days and since 2012 has hosted training sessions at African Nutrition Epidemiology Conference (ANEC) V in South Africa, ANEC VI in Ghana, The Federation of Africa Nutrition Societies (FANUS) in Tanzania and most recently at ANEC VII in Morocco where Training and Education hosted 2 training events. It is planned to continue to develop overseas relationships.

If you have any ideas for new workshops or webinars that can help address your training needs, then please contact us.

Article by:
Penny Hunking
The Nutrition Society Honorary Training and Education Officer

Article printed in Winter 2016 Gazette sent to all members