ACEND Is Temporarily Reducing Required Number of Practice Hours

04/07/2020 - As a result of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 public health emergency, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and dietetics will temporarily reduce the required number of supervised practice hours for programs accredited under ACEND’s 2017 Accreditation Standards.

ACEND’s Board of Directors voted April 6 to reduce the number of hours from 1,200 to 1,000 for registered dietitian nutritionist programs and from 450 hours to 375 hours for nutrition and dietetics technician, registered programs. The temporary reduction covers all students graduating between the period starting January 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022.

The action was taken with the following factors taken into consideration:

  • Increasingly, students and interns are losing the authorization to complete their rotations at practice sites, delaying their ability to complete the program in a reasonable timeframe.
  • It is estimated 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 and interns.
  • The temporary requirement remains for a minimum of 600 hours for RDN programs and 225 hours for NDTR programs in authentic, professional work settings. Authentic activities in real-world professional settings do not need to be in-person, but they must include real clients/patients or entail real-life work situations.
  • Programs must ensure students and interns demonstrate that they have met the competencies before receiving a verification statement.
  • In March, the U.S. Department of Education encouraged accreditors to be flexible during this emergency situation.
  • Consultation with Academy’s legal counsel on licensure found that 1,000 hours of supervised practice should meet current and anticipated future requirements for licensure across the U.S. and its territories.
  • There is crucial need for RDNs as essential health care professionals to assist during the COVID-19 emergency. 

As a reminder, ACEND has made other temporary changes to our requirements to assist programs and students and interns during this emergency, including:

  • Approval to offer distance education during the COVID-19 situation without submitting a substantive change and going through the regular ACEND approval process.
  • Reduction in the number of supervised practice hours in professional settings to a minimum of 600 hours for RDN programs and 225 for NDTR programs.
  • Ability to allow students and interns a one- to two-week break to give program directors time to plan and arrange alternate experiences without seeking ACEND approval.
  • Approval to temporarily use a different activity to measure a student’s or intern’s achievement of the competency or knowledge requirement. 

ACEND will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and how it is affecting accredited programs. Read updated documents and responses to questions

For other recent information about ACEND.

Please do not hesitate to contact your ACEND manager if you have questions or need additional information to address a situation at your institution.