Importance of Licensing
Licensing dietitians and nutritionists assures the public that individuals disseminating nutrition advice have the appropriate education and experience. Individuals seeking nutrition advice who are medically compromised deserve the assurance that the individual treating them has the requisite education and experience. Licensure laws protect the public from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals who would portray themselves as nutrition experts.
As educated and qualified health care practitioners, dietitians and nutritionists have the primary obligation to promote public health. The rationale behind licensure is consistent with this obligation. Licensure laws are not intended to restrict freedom of speech or to monopolize any business. The same arguments opposing licensure laws could be used against licensure of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, but legislatures in every state have recognized that the protection of the public health justifies regulation.
In 1994 Minnesota’s Licensure bill was passed into law and the Licensure Board was established. Minnesota was one of the first states to achieve licensure. It serves as a great example of how to construct an enduring licensure that serves its primary role of protecting the public while continuing to support advanced and evolving practice for Licensed Dietitians (LD) and Licensed Nutritionists (LN). As of 2016, there are about 2,200 RDNs in Minnesota and approximately 1,700 are licensed, evidence of the strong support Licensure has in our state.
Being Licensed is as Important as Ever
Healthcare employers and provider and payer groups are using licensure as a “due diligence” measure to verify that RD/RDNs are qualified. While our national credential under the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) is highly respected and credible, provider and payer groups expect to see a local oversight and certification body. Healthcare organizations are encouraging RD/RDN licensure as a requirement for their third party business agreement-insurance. In order to follow a predefined practice guideline or protocol that includes a physician prescribed medication – think TPN/TF, Cystic Fibrosis, Dialysis, Diabetes, etc. – you must be licensed. Keep in mind that with the availability of online verification, a screening check of your state licensure status may happen without your involvement or awareness.