As the role of the registered dietitian expands and evolves, what will the future bring? What skills and knowledge will we need to be successful nutrition practitioners? In the past our role was to assess, counsel and teach. We gathered information and then tailored a diet based on the information we had available, which often was very skimpy.

We see a different future, one in which the nutrition practitioner is an active participant with a more “hands on” role, literally and figuratively. Nutrition-focused physical assessment requires dietitians to do more than talk; they must do a clinical assessment by looking, touching and talking, similar to what nurses and physicians do. Some dietitians are already inserting feeding tubes, listening for bowel sounds, teaching how to give insulin shots and other “hands on” clinical activities.

With the emergence of nutrigenetics and epigenetics, there is a much greater understanding of the importance of nutrition in preventing and treating illness and a way to test for it! Nutrition practitioners are already ordering tests and changing diets based on the genetic and epigenetic make-up of their clients. Instead of giving clients overly broad diets that may or may not work for them, more of us will be ordering tests to individualize a diet that will work and improve outcomes!

To get to the point where we are adept “hands on” practitioners, new skills and knowledge are required. Nutrition Dimension will develop educational courses to meet the present and upcoming needs of nutrition practitioners. In this magazine there are courses that can get you started. Check out the courses on nutrigenetics, epigenetics, critical thinking and obesity management for a taste of what’s to come.

What do you see as the future of the profession? What types of courses do you need to help you improve the skills you have and develop new ones for the future? Let us know your thoughts and feedback by posting a comment below!