Health professionals seeking employment in foreign countries are commonly required to undertake competency assessment in order to practice. The present study aims to outline the development and validation of a written examination for Dietetic Skills Recognition (DSR), to assess the knowledge, skills, capabilities and professional judgement of overseas-educated dietitians against the competency standards applied to dietetic graduates in Australia.
The present study reviews the design, rationale, validation and outcomes of a multiple choice question (MCQ) written examination for overseas-educated dietitians based on 5 years of administration. The validity of the exam is evaluated using Messick’s validity framework, which focuses on five potential sources of validity evidence—content, internal structure, relationships with other variables, response process and consequences. The reference point for the exam pass mark or “cutscore” is the minimum standard required for safe practice.
In total, 114 candidates have completed the MCQ examination at least once, with an overall pass rate of 52% on the first attempt. Pass rates are higher from countries where dietetic education more closely reflects the Australian model. While the pass rate for each exam tends to vary with each cohort, the cutscore has remained relatively stable over eight administrations.
The findings provide important data supporting the validity of the MCQ exam. A more complete evaluation of the validity of the exam must be sought within the context of the whole DSR program of assessment. The DSR written component may serve as a model for use of the MCQ format for dietetic and other professional credentialing organisations.