10 Things You Can Do Now to Be a Better RDN

Man Studying the Computer and Notes - 10 Things You Can Do Now to Be a Better RDN

1. Follow the News
Take five minutes each day to scan the health and science headlines. Better yet, read the Academy's Daily News, which has the latest dietetics-related headlines and links to articles.

2. Update Your Library
Make sure your reference materials are current. If a publisher is releasing a new edition of a title, it's because there is enough new or revised material to update the previous editions. Find out what those additions and revisions are so you know what you'll need to catch up on. The RDNs in the Academy's Knowledge Center recommend:

  • Nutrition Care Manual
  • Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, 4th Ed. (American Dietetic Association, 2012)
  • The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements, 3rd Ed. (American Dietetic Association, 2007)
  • Krause's Food & the Nutrition Care Process, 13th Ed. (WB Saunder & Co., 2011)
  • Food Medication Interactions, 18th Ed. (Food Medications Interactions, 2015)
  • Cultural Food Practices (American Dietetic Association, 2010)

Depending on your discipline, you may need additional texts for your personal reference library. Ask colleagues what titles they recommend.

3. Read Research Abstracts
Pick two science journals that are applicable to your career and read abstracts of studies published in each issue. Abstracts give you the gist of the research in about 300 words and you can read more if something piques your interest. Most abstracts are available free online, either through the journal's Web site or via PubMed.

4. Have a Plan
Continuing education is most effective when combined with strategy. Don't think of professional development as a list of requirements to fulfill, but as a path to the future you choose. In addition to using the professional development portfolio process, consider which skills and knowledge would most benefit your career. Where do you see yourself in upcoming years? From teleseminars to Webinars to conferences to CPE articles in publications, there is a variety of ways to meet your continuing education needs.

5. Keep Code Conscious
If you submit claims for MNT reimbursement, review your third-party payer contracts to confirm exactly which codes you should use for nutrition services. This includes practitioners who employ billing services. While your vendor may provide a great service, ultimately you could be held accountable for improper coding.

6. Check Your Credentials
Time flies when you have a career, but managing your credentials is a must. Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for one to lose RDN status – plus all the other hard-earned credentials – because CDR's annual reminders went to an old address. Make sure your contact information is up to date.

7. Peruse Job Sites
Even if you're not looking for a new job, knowing the skills and experiences your market demands will help you understand your strengths, as well as areas you may want to prioritize in your learning plan. Check EatRight Careers from the Academy, alliedhealthcareers.com, LinkedIn.com, careerbuilder.com, dietitiancentral.com, specific employer sites and your local classifieds. Tip: You might want to conduct these particular online searches from your home computer.

8. Get Involved
Whether it's your local government, school board or a charitable cause, volunteering in your community offers many personal rewards. Being active in your community also helps you professionally, since knowing the people around you and their needs is imperative to delivering the best service. Familiarize yourself with nutrition-related legislation at your city and state levels. You will find that initiatives which benefit your community also benefit your career.

9. Meet Your Colleagues
Networking isn't always easy — it takes time, effort and sometimes a little money. Attend a national conference or a state or regional affiliate association meeting. Or invite RDNs in your area for an informal get-together. Dietetic practice groups are another excellent way to network with people in your field. Staying connected to others in your profession is one of the most rewarding ways you can advance your career.

10. Know the Technology
By now, most RDNs know how to conduct research online, put together a basic PowerPoint presentation and create a Facebook profile. But what do you know about podcasts, e-counseling and telehealth, blogs and engaging in social media? More importantly, do you know how RDNs are using them? If not, you're in luck: Catch up on Food & Nutrition's #Social Pro series.