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The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Introduces New Doctoral Standards for the RDN Practitioner

Dietetics is facing a shortage of RDNs with terminal degrees. With only 2.4% of RDNs holding a terminal degree, there is an urgent need for doctoral-prepared RDNs to fill needed positions in academia and meet the increased demand in industry, government, and other sectors (Davis et al., J Am Diet Assoc 2023). This concern, combined with the request from current Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN) programs to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) to ensure quality of doctoral programs, led to the ACEND Board’s decision to develop the Advanced Practice Doctorate (APD) Standards for the RDN.
The APD is distinct from the entry-level master's degree as well as the research PhD. It incorporates advanced didactic coursework, an advanced practice residency, and applied research to achieve core competencies. Students entering an APD program must already have the RDN credential and must have earned a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of four years of full-time post-credentialing work experience or a master’s degree with a minimum of two years of full-time post-credentialing work experience. The new ACEND APD Accreditation Standards will be released June 1, 2024 for voluntary adoption by academic institutions.

What is ACEND?

ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics) is responsible for accrediting education programs in nutrition and dietetics, ensuring they meet quality standards.

How does it differ from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic and Commission on Dietetic Registration?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a professional organization for nutritionists and dietitians, providing resources, education, and advocacy in the field.

CDR (Commission on Dietetic Registration) is the credentialing agency for dietitians, administering the registration examination and maintaining professional standards for practitioners. In essence, the Academy is the overarching professional body, ACEND ensures the quality of education programs, and CDR handles credentialing and registration for practitioners.

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