The profession of dietetics experiences some of the widest gaps in diversity and representation of any group of medical practitioners in the US. Addressing this gap requires profession-wide attention to address and integrate the essential concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Making dietetics an equitable and welcoming space for all RDNs and future dietitians and assisting us better care for the communities we serve. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Dietetics Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential for making the profession of dietetics an equitable and welcoming space in Iowa and across the nation.
Diversity is the representation of RDNs from a variety of cultures and backgrounds within our profession. This concept goes beyond race and ethnicity, also embracing representation of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical ability, etc.
Equity is understanding an individual’s needs to become successful in life and as a professional and distributing the necessary resources for them to be able to be able to do so.
Inclusion is the equitable recognition and integration of diverse RDN’s contributions, presence, perspectives, and genuine elevation of their value in the dietetics profession.
To responsively meet the needs of those we serve, the profession of dietetics (and educational competencies) should mirror the rapid growth in diversity the US is experiencing. However, dietetics remains minimally diverse. According to CDR, as of April 2021 only 19% of dietetics professionals identify as non-white (3% Latinx, 4% Asian, 3% Black/African-American, 2% other).
Exclusion in Dietetics
Wide gaps of ethnic diversity and representation can be attributed to historical, systemic exclusion within the profession of dietetics. Exclusion via bias and discrimination toward 1) who can become an RDN, 2) RDNs of oppressed identity, and 3) cultural-responsive nutrition education competencies for dietetic students and interns. Lack of DEI due to systemic exclusion both results in lack of representation amongst RDNs, but also health inequities faced by the
communities we serve.
Improving DEI in Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has recently adopted into its strategic plan, goals
proposed by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Advisory board. These include:
Establish infrastructure and resources to achieve optimal and sustainable inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) outcomes.
Increase recruitment, retention and completion of nutrition and dietetics education and leadership at all levels for underrepresented groups.
Cultivate organizational and professional values of equity, respect, civility and anti- discrimination.
Advance food and nutrition research, policy and practice through a holistic IDEA lens. Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion strengthens RDNs, dietetics profession, and helps us become meaningful allies in meeting the nutrition and dietetics needs of our communities.
How YOU can Become a Meaningful Ally
Embracing DEI in dietetics addresses barriers preventing those of diverse backgrounds from entering the field. To make dietetics an inclusive space for all, our educational systems and profession must adjust to meet culturally-responsive and intersectional needs.
YOU can become a meaningful DEI ally in dietetics by understanding your own prejudices and
advocating for change (both professionally and personally):
· Recognize and address your internalized biases
· Educate yourself on systemic racism in the US and in dietetics
· Support and elevate minority RDNs
· Stand against injustice and speak against hate and discrimination
Follow these professional organizations and groups to follow, striving to improve DEI in:
Food & Wellness Equity Collective
Make sure to join and participate in the Iowa RD 2 RD group on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the latest in DEI education and virtual resources.