Making the Case for Research

Nutrition research encompasses a wide variety of activities from tracking patient outcomes, quality improvement projects and testing new interventions to surveying customer acceptance of menu items and conducting community needs assessments. The main purpose of these activities is to improve patient care and the effectiveness of nutritional interventions, but participating in research projects holds many other benefits as well.

Improved patient care and health outcomes: Research can result in information that improves patient safety, reduces readmissions and advances quality improvement efforts. This leads to better, more effective care for patients and a healthier population overall.

Professional knowledge: Participating in research projects can provide access to training and continuing professional education credits, as well as cutting-edge tools and knowledge that can sharpen your skills and help patients. Participating in research can further develop skills such as organizational ability, time management and critical thinking. RDNs who participate in research often share their new skills and knowledge with colleagues through staff presentations and other learning opportunities.

Opportunities for collaboration: Research often provides additional opportunities to collaborate with physicians and other health care providers, which improves working relationships among the different health care professions. It also helps build a culture of cooperation and common mission within an organization.

Individual job satisfaction and advancement: The knowledge gained, relationships established and attention received through active participation in research projects can raise the profile of individuals, departments and even the profession, leading to renewed job satisfaction and possibilities for advancement.

Increased recognition for nutritional science: Research that demonstrates how the participation of nutrition and dietetics professionals contributes to the effectiveness of health care teams paves the way for increased recognition and reimbursement for RDN services.

Increased reimbursement: Improving patient outcomes and increasing efficiency and effectiveness of care can lead to greater reimbursement rates for the health care organization as a whole. Financially viable health care organizations ensure access to care.

As our health care system moves towards value-based reimbursement, the importance of participating in research projects continues to grow. Research activities can often be incorporated into daily activities and can enrich, rather than interrupt, workflow and patient interactions.