Licensure and Professional Regulation of Dietitians
From the Academy:
Currently 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles such as “dietitian” and “nutritionist.” The Academy is dedicated to protecting consumers by maintaining existing dietetics licensure laws and enacting or strengthening licensure laws in states that lack sufficient regulations to protect the public.
Importance of Professional Licensing to Protect Consumers
Our consumer protection efforts ensure that consumers are able to identify and access qualified professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, skill and competency necessary to provide safe and ethical nutrition therapy. As the public increasingly understands the importance of good nutrition, some individuals without any formal education, training or expertise in human nutrition or dietetics are exploiting this newly recognized market.
States’ professional licensing laws help consumers identify who is a qualified practitioner to provide a particular set of specified services, known as the profession’s scope of practice. Some individuals are not qualified for licensure because they lack the objective accredited education, experience and examination demonstrating their competency to provide services within the regulated profession’s scope of practice. The Academy shares elected officials’ interest in supporting licensure to prevent harm for our communities, workplaces, families and friends. This means protecting against unsafe or inaccurate nutrition counseling or interventions that may lead to poor or even dangerous health outcomes — and unnecessary, expensive products or services.
In addition to helping the public identify and access qualified practitioners, licensure often provides health insurance companies and state and federal governments with the assurance that these practitioners meet standards of professional competence in order to be reimbursed for providing nutrition care services. In states without licensure, other nutrition professionals or paraprofessionals may be reimbursed for nutrition services despite meeting only some of the qualifications required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
The Academy supports professional licensure for RDNs and other qualified nutrition professionals to protect the public by enforcing objective standards in education, work experience and exams. These standards ensure competency to provide complex care, such as medical nutrition therapy. Requirements to become a licensed dietitian nutritionist in most states are generally similar to those required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
For Reporting Harm and Documenting Stories of Success
From the Academy:
The public and health care professionals both benefit from having a complete and accurate picture of the nature of the risk caused by unqualified and unlicensed providers. At the same time, increasing awareness of the value of quality RDN-provided services advances the profession and enables recognition of effective, superior practice. Whether you are using this Incident Reporting Tool as a consumer or as a health care provider, your efforts are critical in ensuring the public is provided excellent care and that service delivery is documented to ensure high standards of professional practice in the future. Likewise reporting excellence in care is essential in assuring the services delivered are documented for future standards of professional practice.
To file a complaint in North Dakota, please see the North Dakota Board of Dietetic Practice website for the proper procedure.
Watch this video for more information! Access slides here: PowerPoint