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:


Request for Temporary Suspension of Program Activities

A program planning to suspend its activities with students/interns for a period of time greater than two weeks must submit a Suspension of Program Activities Request in order to maintain the program's accreditation status per ACEND®'s Emergencies and Disasters Policy. A Suspension of Activities Request must be submitted electronically to acendreports@eatright.org.

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Contacting ACEND with Requests for Needed Modifications to the Program

ACEND® recognizes the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our programs and their sponsoring institutions and would like to remind program directors of ACEND®'s policy on Emergencies and Disasters.

If your program is facing a situation with the potential for short-term impact on your program's operations that may affect the ability to remain in compliance with the Accreditation Standards, you are asked to contact ACEND® with a request for any needed modifications in order to maintain compliance with the Standards. Examples of such instances may be:

  • Program director position not meeting requirement of remaining in a full-time position, such as due to being furloughed or moving to part-time status
  • Inability to meet the requirement for hours of supervised practice/experiential learning beyond ACEND®'s temporary allowance for reduced hours or increased use of alternate practice experiences provided during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Delayed program start, or inability to hold classes or supervised practice/experiential learning that extend beyond two weeks. If your program is experiencing a suspension of its activities for a period of time that extends longer than two weeks, complete and submit the Suspension of Program Activities Request form.

In any of these instances, follow the ACEND® Emergencies and Disasters policy to submit your request and be assured that we will work with your program to help minimize the impact and disruption to your students and/or interns. ACEND® is sensitive to the extenuating circumstances surrounding these decisions and supports action taken to ensure the health, safety and security of our students, faculty, preceptors, patients and other stakeholders. 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. We will work with any program that has specific needs on a case-by-case basis.

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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. This page includes links to other education resources such as the NDEP's compiled List of Resources and Examples of Alternate Activities and the Academy's list of complimentary education modules.

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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Information for Current and Future Students and Interns in ACEND Accredited Programs

The Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics has received questions from concerned students and interns regarding the potential impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on ACEND® accredited programs. ACEND® requires that all accredited dietetics education programs follow their institutional and/or program policies and procedures in any instance that may affect the program. If needed, the program may consider alternate experiences, moving courses online or other ways to provide the education to its students or interns. As the COVID‐19 pandemic is a fluid situation, programs may need to make decisions to provide coursework or supervised practice experiences differently than what was originally advertised when you applied to the program. During the pandemic, decisions to move coursework online or provide alternative supervised practice experiences are made at the discretion of the program, as long as the program ultimately provides the necessary coursework to meet ACEND's curriculum requirements and a minimum of 1,200 hours supervised practice for RDN programs and 450 hours for NDTR programs, as required by the ACEND® Accreditation Standards.

ACEND® believes that supervised practice can take place in professional work settings (hospitals, schools, long‐term care facilities, businesses, etc.) and through alternate supervised practice experiences such as simulations, case studies, role plays and other activities. ACEND® Standards currently allow programs to offer up to 300 of the required 1,200 of supervised practice hours for RDN programs and 100 of the required 450 hours for NDTR programs through alternate experiences. However, due to the pandemic, ACEND® has expanded these requirements so programs can offer additional supervised practice hours using simulations, case studies, role play and/or other practice activities.

Please contact the program director of the program you are enrolled in or to which you plan to apply for specific answers to questions you may have.

ACEND® is closely monitoring the information emerging regarding the spread and scale of the COVID‐19 virus and its potential impact on its accredited nutrition and dietetics programs and will provide updates on its website as necessary.

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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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COVID-19 Situation and Supervised Practice Requirements

ACEND® has received numerous questions regarding COVID-19. ACEND® requires that all programs follow institutional and/or program policies and procedures in any instance that may affect the program. If needed, the program may consider alternate experiences or additional make up hours should any student/intern need to make up time missed due to illness or facilities unable to accept interns/students due to COVID-19.

It is up to the program to determine when and how those experiences take place or the program may be able to incorporate alternate supervised experiences i.e. simulation, case studies and/or role play. The ACEND® Board determined that in instances where programs and/or students/interns are affected by COVID-19 and only during this occurrence, programs may award up to 600 hours, of the total 1200 hours, to alternate supervised experiences for RDN programs and up to 225 hours, of the 450 hours, for NDTR programs.

If any program must include alternate supervised experience hours over the maximum hours stated above, the program must notify ACEND® according to ACEND®'s Emergencies and Disasters Policy (Policy 4.7, p. 71).

ACEND® is closely monitoring the information emerging regarding the spread and scale of the COVID-19 virus and its potential impact on dietetics programs. ACEND® will continue to keep its programs informed of any changes and/or additional information. Please contact ACEND@eatright.org or your ACEND program manager if you have any questions or concerns.

Read the latest information regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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During COVID-19 Situation ACEND Approves Programs to Offer Distance Education

ACEND® is providing 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. If a program chooses to continue using distance education in a manner requiring ACEND®'s approval after that point, only then would it need to seek approval under ACEND®'s normal process.

To meet USDE's requirements for providing distance education, instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis. There are many acceptable means of communicating with students, including simply telephone and/or e-mail. In other words, an instructor could use email to provide instructional materials to students enrolled in the class, use chat features to communicate with students, set up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engage in email exchanges or require students to submit work electronically that the instructor will evaluate.

ACEND® will continue to keep its programs informed of any changes and/or additional information during these challenging times. Please contact ACEND@eatright.org or your ACEND® program manager if you have any questions or concerns.

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Education Resources for Program Directors

ACEND® has developed the following list of available resources to provide program directors with examples of activities and assignments to use for alternate supervised practice experiences.

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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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