Nutrition Support Blog: Dietitian/Nutritionist of the Future
February 28, 2013
Books or movies about time travel have been popular for over 100 years – everything from cautionary tales about our reliance on industry or computers, to teenagers in flying Deloreans. I suspect that part of the appeal of some time travel stories is the concept of creating an alternative (possibly better) future by making a simple change or different decision than in the past.
I thought that I woke up in an alternative future recently when I arrived at work and opened an email about a consensus statement from the Council of Future Practices of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The key sections of the document that made me wonder who had meddled with the past involved the decision to incorporate a graduate degree with supervised practice as the future entry to Registered Dietitian practice, and the existence of RDN – Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist as a legitimate professional designation.
I passionately believe that the best path to improved credibility for clinical nutrition professionals is an improved formal education process – both for entry level and advanced practice designations. There is just no way to have genuine medical nutrition experts without more physiology, endocrinology and pharmacology at some point. I am overjoyed that we may be eventually overcoming the inertia of the 1960’s model for dietetics and moving our field into the next century.
The decision to embrace the word nutrition/nutritionist in our organization name or professional title is one that I did not think would occur in my lifetime. After nearly 30 years of explaining that I do more than “plan the hospital menus” when I use the word dietitian, the thought that future generations might have less of a professional identity crisis is encouraging.
I am sure that implementing these changes will take work and our path to the future might get bumpy at times. Every alternative future in the movies seems fraught with some kind of unexpected twist – perhaps in this alternative future Carol Parrish is disorganized, or I arrive on time for meetings, but I am willing to take the risk. :)
Change is never easy, and inevitably some will argue for clinging tightly to the status quo. However, if we do not want devolve to become the helpless and weak professional equivalent of the Eloi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eloi) we had best implement some of these changes before hospitals start to realize that some other professions could potentially meet the needs, and generate profits, from services currently performed by RD’s. Being the professional Eloi stalked by flesh eating Morlocks is a future I want no part of.
"The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves by our own will."
-The Terminator, 1984, Orion Pictures