Dietetic Workforce Capacity Assessment for Public Health Nutrition and Community Nutrition

Tatyana Y. El-Kour, Kathryn Kelley, Meg Bruening, Shannon Robson, Jody Vogelzang, Jimin Yang, Elizabeth Yakes Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Worldwide, there is a continued rise in malnutrition and noncommunicable disease, along with rapidly changing dietary patterns, demographics, and climate and persistent economic inequality and instability. These trends have led to a national and global focus on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to improve population health. A well-trained public health and community nutrition workforce is critical to manage and contribute to these efforts. The study describes the current public health and community nutrition workforce and factors influencing registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to work in these settings and characterizes RDN preparedness, training, and competency in public health and community nutrition. The study was comprised of a cross-sectional, online survey of mostly US RDNs working in public health/community nutrition and semistructured telephone interviews with US-based and global public health and community nutrition experts. RStudio version 1.1.442 was used to manage and descriptively analyze survey data. Thematic analysis was conducted to evaluate expert interviews. Survey participants (n = 316) were primarily women (98%) and White (84%) with the RDN credential (91%) and advanced degrees (65%). Most reported that non-RDNs are performing nutrition-related duties at their organizations. Respondents generally rated themselves as better prepared to perform community nutrition vs public health functions. Interviews were conducted with 7 US-based experts and 5 international experts. Experts reported that non-RDNs often fill nutrition-related positions in public health, and RDNs should more actively pursue emerging public health opportunities. Experts suggested that RDNs are more desirable job candidates if they have advanced public health degrees or prior experience in public health or community nutrition and that dietetic training programs need to more rigorously incorporate public health training and experience. Significant opportunity exists to improve the preparedness and training of the current dietetic workforce to increase capacity and meet emerging needs in public health and community nutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1391.e21
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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