A bright future for the dietetics profession is important to all of us. Advocating for important policy improvements at state and federal levels ensures that RDNs/NDTRs have an impact. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has many resources available to advance our efforts.
Why should I care about policy?
Public policy is not just about insurance coverage. Every RDN/NDTR should care about what happens in Washington and be involved in public policy because it affects our profession and impacts our personal careers in several ways. For example, there are many competing groups who would love to be able to provide “nutrition services” in hospitals and other healthcare settings. If we do not advocate for our profession, there are many non-qualified groups who can compete for RDN/NDTR jobs. RDN/NDTR jobs are protected because of licensure laws and credential requirements. The growth of our profession, the protection and enforcement of licensure and credentialing requirements for RDN/NDTR jobs, and even the growth of salaries for RDNs/NDTRs are dictated by public policy and legislation at state and federal levels.
In addition, many RDNs/NDTRs work in programs that receive state or federal funding (including University funding for research). If we do not educate staffers and legislators about our profession and the impact we make, billions of dollars may be cut from these programs— meaning loss of jobs for RDNs/NTRS, loss of essential services for the most impoverished in our country, and worsening quality of health and healthcare services for American’s.
Consider these questions:
- Do you like your career?
- Do you enjoy job security?
- Do you like that RDN/NDTR jobs are protected by educational and credentialing requirements?
- Do you think that there should be more funding for seniors at the state and federal levels?
- Do you think RDNs/NDTRs deserve more inclusion in insurance policies?
- Do you want to your salary to grow?
- Do you want to earn more respect and acknowledgement in your profession?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, then you should care about public policy and the Academy’s legislative efforts. These questions represent actual Academy legislative issues in an effort to protect and expand our profession!
Who reads the action alerts? Are they even read?
Legislators, staffers, legislative interns, legislative aides, and any other person who is working in the legislator’s office could read action alerts. Most likely action alerts are read by the legislative staffer that is assigned to managing healthcare topics for the office.
Interesting Fact: Staffers are just as important as the legislator (if not more) when it comes to successful advocacy efforts. Staffers are the people who are on the ground and drive the development of laws. They are the people who collect and perform research, write drafts for bills, and have the most influence to bring topics and bills to the legislator’s attention.
There is no guarantee that staffers or legislators will read our action alerts. This is why it is very important that we get as many RDNs/NDTRs as possible to send action alerts to their legislators in response to each “call to action”. The squeaky wheel gets the grease; in this case the more letters we send to our legislators, the more attention from staffers and legislators we receive.
What is the easiest way to be involved with policy?
There are two easy ways to get involved and make an impact! One is to take action when the Academy sends out Action Alerts. The second is to make at least one yearly donation to ANDPAC (The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee.) ANDPAC empowers Academy members to gain critical access to current and future policy makers by allowing them to meet with elected officials at local events. It also supports members of Congress and candidates who champion nutrition issues.
Where can I learn more about public policy and how I can get involved?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website contains excellent information pertinent to the RDN. Below are links to specific content.