Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the career motivations and aspirations of dietetic students using the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). The objectives were to identify and quantify 1) the factors that motivate current students to choose dietetics as a career, 2) the future career aspirations of dietetic students, and 3) the way in which dietetic students make career decisions. Methods: This descriptive study utilized the validated Career Aspirations and Motivations of Dietetics Students (CAMDS) survey. Program directors of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)-accredited programs shared the CAMDS survey with their students electronically. A resulting convenience sample of n=328 students were enrolled in a didactic program in dietetics, dietetic internship, coordinated program in dietetics, or future education model graduate program. Data was captured regarding demographics, path towards a career in dietetics, motivations and influences to practice as a dietetics professional, and future career aspirations. Descriptive statistics were used to convey study findings. Data were both nominal and ordinal. Results: The majority of participants were female, white, and born after 1980. Motivating factors to pursue dietetics included cooking with family during childhood; a personal interest in nutrition; the influence of a parent or legal guardian; social media; and the opportunity to help others. The preferred employment sectors were clinical dietetics, community dietetics, and private practice. Conclusions: Attention to the career motivations and aspirations of dietetic students is requisite to supporting the growing demand for credentialed dietetics practitioners. The vast majority of current dietetic students are classified as millennials or generation Z; these students have career motivations and aspirations that are distinct from previous generations of dietetic students.

Author Bio(s)

Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, LD is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO.

Rabia Rahman, PhD, RD, LD is an Assistant Professor and the Dietetic Internship Director at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO.


This research was funded by a grant from the Foodservice Systems Management Education Council.



Figure 1_Linsenmeyer, Rahman.docx (38 kB)
Figure 1: The Social Cognitive Career Theory

IRB Approval Letter_Linsenmeyer, Rahman.pdf (58 kB)
IRB Approval Letter_Protocol #28140


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