The purpose of this study was to gather information on factors which influence career-decision making in dietetics students. Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 1695 students in Plan IV/V dietetic programs throughout the country. Of the 156 schools which were mailed questionnaires, responses were received from 53.9% of the schools. Demographic information revealed that 77.7% of the students were between the ages of 20 to 30 years old. Thirteen percent were over 30 years old, while 9.1% were less than 20 years old. The number of students from rural (26.8%) and urban (26.2%) areas were equally divided. The majority of students, 47%, came from a suburban community. The overwhelming number of students, 89.4%, were female, 10.6% were male. Ninety percent of the students were Caucasians, the remaining 10% was uniformly comprised of Asians (3.3%), Afro-Americans (3.0%), and Hispanics (2.1%). The majority of students, 57.6%, reported making their career decision in college. Another 20.9% indicated their career decision was made during high school. Students who made their career decision after work experience comprised 10.5% of the population. Students rated interest in nutrition (97.9%) and job enjoyment (95.6%) as factors which were important in their decision to pursue dietetics. Other factors which were rated as having a positive impact on career choice included opportunities to help others (90.1%) and working with people (89.6%). Results were well distributed when students reported the degree of influence financial rewards played in their career selection. No primary sources emerged when students evaluated the influences of various people and media resources on their career decision. Career choice appears to be influenced by a variety of sources. While the overwhelming majority of students rated job enjoyment as an important factor in their career decision, other factors were more decision point specific. For example, Chi Square analysis revealed that students who decided to enter dietetics following work exposure were more likely (X2=26.24, df 12, P<.01) to rate opportunities for advancement as very important. These same students were also more likely (X2=28.65, df 12, P<.01) to rate part-time work opportunities as very important. Students who made their career decision after exposure to work experience were less likely than expected (X2=30.44, df 12, P<.01) to indicate that a guidance counselor had influenced their choice. However, students who made their career decision after exposure to work experience were more likely than expected (X2=86.27, df 12, P<.001) to indicate that an employer had a high degree of influence on their career decision. Students who made their career decision in college were less likely than those who made decisions at other times (X2=78.67, df 12, P<.001) to report that a teacher had low influence on their career decision. These findings identify the need for recruitment strategies to be audience specific. Since career decision-making appears to occur during one of three time frames (in high school, college and during work experience) recruitment activities should be developed to specifically target students in these areas. In addition to general information, specific factors which have been demonstrated to be important to the target population should be included.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dietitians--United States--Attitudes; Dietitians--United States--Psychology; Dietitians--Vocational guidance; Dietetics--Study and teaching (Higher)

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Hospitality and Tourism Management (CAST)


Stockham, Edward

Advisor/Committee Member

Cerio, Barbara

Advisor/Committee Member

Kmiecinski, Elizabeth


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TX357 .K623 1993


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