Job satisfaction of South African registered dietitians
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Job satisfaction of registered dietitians (RDs) is a very poorly researched subject on a global scale. Apart from a handful of studies conducted in the United States of America (USA) from the 1980’s through to the early 1990’s and only one recently published in 2006, there is no other published information relating to this topic. As a result a crosssectional descriptive study was conducted using a national survey of all 1509 dietitians registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Data was collected using a 2 part self-administered questionnaire, the first part collected demographic data and the second part collected data pertaining to job satisfaction attitude. The job satisfaction questionnaire was based on the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), measuring nine themes of: salary, promotion, knowledge and skills, professional colleagues, members of the multi-disciplinary team, communication, the work environment, rewards of the job and nature of work. Based on the registration contact details of RDs, the questionnaires were distributed by either e-mail or post, giving a final response rate of 22,5% (n=340), representing over a fifth of the dietetic workforce registered with the HPCSA. Overall the data indicated that South African RDs were only slightly satisfied (65,7%) with their current employment, with no significant ifference in overall job satisfaction between those working and living overseas (68,4%)(n=23) and those in South Africa (65,7%)(n=317). Despite there being a positive attitude towards the nature of work (tending towards confirmation of career satisfaction), lower levels of satisfaction were primarily found to be due to poor salaries, lack of promotional opportunities and a perception of low professional image. No extreme levels of satisfaction were found. In regard to associations between demographic variables and job satisfaction, a significant positive correlation was found to occur between age (Spearman’s p=0,036), professional experience (Mann-Whitney U p=0,035), area of expertise (Mann-Whitney U p=0,001), hours of work (Kruskal-Wallis p=0,021) and the location of work (rural versus urban based work) (Mann-Whitney U p=0,00001). Therefore it is predicted that over the next five years, there will be poor staff retention of RDs in dietetic posts, where the greatest loss will be in the Department of Health (DOH), where approximately 83% of current DOH staff (n=113) will be searching for alternative employment. Recommendations therefore include that there should be a re-evaluation of RD pay scales, career-pathing with promotional opportunities, boosting the RD professional image and enhancing dietetic undergraduates programs by including the teaching of nondietetic skills such a business skills and entrepreneurship, required to support dietetic practice on a broader scale.
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