ACEND Information Regarding COVID-19

ACEND® is closely monitoring the information emerging regarding the spread and scale of the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact on dietetics programs and students. ACEND® will continue to keep its programs and students informed of any changes or additional information. View all of ACEND®'s COVID-19 news and information below:

Message from ACEND Regarding Spring 2022 Site Visits

We enter this cycle of accreditation with new and evolving COVID-19 variances that continue to challenge our daily lives and the normal course of our activities. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics is committed to working closely with our programs, with the safety and well-being of students, interns, faculty, preceptors and volunteers our foremost priority.

ACEND®'s site visits will continue to be conducted in-person for spring 2022. We understand that each program is unique and must make decisions based on their institution’s policies and guidelines and what is best for their students/interns and faculty. As events unfold, to the extent possible ACEND® will tailor its processes to meet the needs of each program and stakeholders. Programs with a site visit scheduled to occur soon should discuss with their administration guidance on the planned visit. ACEND® is aware that many universities and organizations continue to have restrictions in place, and we ask that you contact the ACEND® manager or lead reviewer assigned to the program review to share these directives.

If institutional policies prevent a program from hosting the ACEND® review team in-person or if a program is facing compelling challenges to conduct a site visit in-person, please contact the ACEND® staff as soon as possible to discuss options available to the program. Options may include proceeding with a physical site visit with a reduced number of onsite program reviewers, conducting a virtual visit, or a hybrid approach which is a combination of virtual and onsite participation by the review team. Please note that to align with the United States Department of Education requirements, any fully virtual site visit must be followed by a brief in-person follow-up visit to verify evidence and information provided to the team.

Programs moving forward with the in-person site visit should be assured that the ACEND® review team is expected to follow all policies and guidelines set by the institution, including but not limited to social distancing, requiring indoor masking regardless of vaccination status, and showing proof of vaccination.

ACEND® wishes you all the very best as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic together. With collaborative efforts we will succeed in resolving many of today's challenges. As always, please do not hesitate to contact ACEND® Staff  if you have any questions or need additional information in order to address a specific situation at your institution.

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During COVID-19 National Emergency ACEND Extends Distance Education Waiver and Freezes 2022 Annual Accreditation Fee

Heartfelt wishes that you and your families remain safe and healthy during this pandemic and that you are facing fewer challenges while adjusting to this new normal of social distancing and virtual learning. As we begin the new year with renewed hope and direction, I would like to share some positive, and hopefully, welcome news from ACEND®.

Distance Education Update:

On December 11, 2020, the United States Department of Education announced several new waivers and extensions to assist institutions and students through the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, ACEND® will continue to provide broad approval to all its accredited programs to use online technologies to accommodate students whose enrollment is otherwise interrupted as a result of COVID-19 without submitting a substantive change and going through the regular approval process. This flexibility applies for the duration of the national emergency declaration and 180 days following the date on which the COVID–19 national emergency declaration is rescinded. To date, programs that switched to distance education are not expected to submit any paperwork to ACEND®. If a program chooses to continue using distance education beyond the 180 days after rescinding the COVID-19 national emergency, only then would it need to seek approval under ACEND®'s normal process.

2021-2022 Annual Accreditation Fee:

To assist our programs and their institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, at its February 8, 2021 meeting, the ACEND® Board voted to retain the 2020-2021 fee amount and not increase the 2021-2022 annual accreditation fee for all ACEND®-accredited programs. The annual accreditation fee will remain at $2,125.00, the same amount charged in 2020-2021. To review the updated annual accreditation fees, access the Fee Schedule (Effective June 1, 2021 - May 31, 2024).

Thank you for the courageous work you are doing to ensure continued quality education for our nutrition and dietetics students. ACEND® if you need any assistance.

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Additional Guidance from ACEND on Supervised Alternate Activities

ACEND® appreciates educators' and preceptors" efforts during this challenging situation. We would like to provide additional clarifications to the COVID-19 communications dated March 6, 2020 and April 7, 2020 regarding the temporary expanded use of alternate activities to meet a portion of the required supervised practice hours. ACEND® would like to emphasize the following:

  • Programs are reminded that students and interns should not be identifying the learning activities or alternate experiences to meet a specific competency.
  • Nutrition and dietetics program faculty, including the program director, are the educators with expertise on how students and interns can meet the ACEND® competencies. Therefore, it is a program director's responsibility to identify the appropriate alternate learning activities that ensure graduating interns or students have demonstrated entry-level competence. The learning activities, resources needed, assessment methods and expectations for completing these activities should be developed and/or provided by the program and clearly communicated to the students or interns.
  • Students or interns may be provided a choice of activities from which to choose, as long as the choice is limited and all the activities identified specifically address the competency(ies) that need to be achieved; for example, an intern may be given a choice of completing one of two comparable leadership activities. This means:
    1. Students and interns must not be provided with an extensive list of alternate activities to choose from without specific guidance
    2. When a choice of alternate activities is provided to meet a competency or set of competencies, the activities must be deemed comparable
    3. Program directors are encouraged to develop a table with the list of competencies to be met and the specific related alternate activities.
  • The program director can serve as the preceptor for the alternate learning activities and assess student or intern competence.
  • Program directors are strongly encouraged to view ACEND®'s webinar on Providing Alternate Supervised Practice/Experiential Learning Online to learn more about ACEND®'s expectations for providing alternate experiences.

ACEND® has faith in our educators and trusts that programs will make the appropriate curriculum modifications to graduate competent students or interns and ensure public protection. To assist programs in their efforts, we continue to post updated documents and responses to questions we receive on our ACEND® COVID-19 page. As always, please do not hesitate to contact your ACEND® manager if you have any questions or need additional information in order to address a specific situation at your institution.

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ACEND Board Approves a Temporary Reduction in the Required Number of Supervised Practice Hours

On Monday April 6, 2020, the ACEND Board voted to temporarily reduce the required number of supervised practice hours for programs accredited under the ACEND 2017 Accreditation Standards from 1200 hours to 1000 hours for RDN programs (CP, DI, FDE, IDE, DPD with ISPP), and from 450 hours to 375 hours for NDTR programs, for the period starting January 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2022.

This action was made with the following factors taken into consideration:

  1. Increasingly, students/interns are losing the authorization to complete their rotations at various practice sites, delaying their ability to complete the program in a reasonable timeframe.
  2. It is estimated that the impact of the COVID-19 situation will be prolonged lasting through 2021 resulting in the loss of practice sites and suspension of practicums for the current and incoming classes of students/interns.
  3. The temporary requirement for a minimum of 600 hours for RDN programs and 225 hours for NDTR programs in authentic, professional work settings remains. Authentic activities in real-world professional settings do not need to be in-person, but they must include real clients/patients and/or entail real-life situations.
  4. Programs must ensure that students/interns demonstrate they met the competencies before receiving a verification statement.
  5. In its March 2020 correspondence, USDE encouraged accreditors to be flexible during this emergency situation.
  6. Consultation with Academy’s legal counsel on licensure revealed that 1000 hours of supervised practice should meet the current and anticipated future requirements for licensure across the U.S. and its territories.
  7. A crucial need for dietitians as essential health care professionals to assist during the COVID-19 emergency.

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ACEND® Webinar on Providing Alternate Supervised Practice/Experiential Learning Online

On March 30, 2020 ACEND® hosted a webinar to assist program directors and faculty as they move their curriculums and alternate supervised practice experiences/experiential learning online.

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