Guide to continuing education primer series

Dietitian CE Made Easy

A Complete Guide to Continuing Education for Dietitians and Nutritionists

As a Registered Dietitian (RD), or soon to be, you play a vital role in the healthcare community by providing expert advice on proper food and nutrition, counseling clients with unique dietary restrictions, calculating patients’ nutritional requirements, analyzing the nutritional content of food and helping patients in all walks of life to improve their health by adopting healthier eating habits. However, just as important as meeting the initial academic and professional requirements it takes to become a registered dietitian, it is equally imperative to complete your continuing education (CE) requirements for each recertification period. After all, your job depends on it! But first, how well do you know your profession? Here are some interesting stats about Registered Dietitians.

8 Easy Steps to Completing Your Dietitian CE Requirements

When it’s time to fulfill your CE requirements, refer to this handy step-by-step guide. Anyone can start learning today by signing up for a free account at ContinuingEducation.com. However, because we know how confusing the CE process can be for new dietitians and even veteran RDs, we’ve sifted through the information for you and compiled everything you need to know into this comprehensive, yet digestible, guide that makes CE easy! Again, we hope you refer to this guide often and share it with your friends (Facebook and Twitter links are at the bottom of this post).

1. Complete Your National CDR Requirements

First and foremost, you need to understand the profession’s national requirements. The Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) has outlined the requirements for recertification in their Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) guide where, in order to achieve the 75 Continuing Professional Education Units (CPEU) required for every five-year certification cycle, you must complete the five steps below.

“Professional Self Reflection”
Forcing you to question your current approach and formulate a series of short-term and long-term goals, this exercise aims to help you to identify where you are now and where you want to be within your career. The worksheet within this first step will help you devise your Learning Plan in step 3.

“Learning Needs Assessment”
This exercise asks you to assess your professional abilities, identifying your professional weaknesses and the areas where you could potentially improve. In all, this worksheet is designed to enhance your competence, remain competitive and to help you take advantage of new opportunities in the marketplace.

“Learning Plan”
Combining your list of goals from step 1 and your learning need codes from step 2, this step will help you create a customized learning plan roadmap that will lead the way to maximizing your CE practices along the way.

“Activity Log”
Helping you to record, evaluate and document the CE activities that stem directly from your identified learning needs above, this activity log will assist you in reaching your goals and your desired level of competency. Reviewing your evaluations of your learning activities can help you in making decisions about future learning opportunities in future recertification cycles.

“Professional Development Evaluation”
After the completion of step 4 above and at the end of the recertification cycle, you are required to perform a self-evaluation of the degree to which you met your Learning Plan of step 3. You are asked to assess what you have learned and how you have applied this learning, ultimately, drawing a conclusion to the effectiveness of your Learning Plan in step 3 and your overall CE activities.

In addition to these five steps, it should also be noted that the CDR mandates that RDs (and DTRs) complete a minimum of one CPEU of Continuing Professional Education in Ethics, as a part of the recertification cycle requirements. Learn more about the ethics course requirement.

2. Know (and Complete) Your State Licensing Requirements

Once you’ve learned the national requirements above, you’ll then need to know your individual state requirements, making sure to comply with special deadlines and/or state requirements in addition to CDR. Keep in mind, each state has a unique set of recertification mandates – for example, Kentucky and Louisiana require RDs to complete 15 of the 75 CPEUs each year by a certain date, while other states have no additional requirements beyond the CDR national standard.

Find your state below in this requirements map or review detailed state-by-state dietitian CE requirements.

3. Create an Account on NutritionDimension.com

Because RDs need to complete 75 CPEUs every five years (DTRs need 50), it’s helpful to have the tools to make this happen. As a robust resource of high-quality nutrition CE courses for dietitians, accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition (FCDN), Certifying Board for Dietary Managers (CBDM), School Nutrition Association (SNA), and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), NutritionDimension.com makes it easy to maintain your professional certifications and grow your skills to advance your RD career.

You can get all CPEUs completed as self-study online courses at ContinuingEducation.com or as many as you wish combined with activities such as webinars, poster sessions and approved research. Create an account to make the recertification process exponentially easier. Don’t worry, it’s fast, easy, free and loaded with the following benefits.

Benefits of NutritionDimension.com

  • Accurate Needs Assessments of Learners – Because its parent site (ContinuingEducation.com) reaches more healthcare professionals than any other CE site on the planet, it taps into a vast network of healthcare professionals to identify timely, relevant and compelling topics and is able to identify industry trends before they happen.
  • Licensed Healthcare Experts and Professional Editors – As one of the only organizations to hire a team of highly credentialed, interdisciplinary healthcare professionals to manage the content and with thousands of freelance professionals as authors and reviewers, the subject matter is guaranteed to be relevant and up-to-date.
  • Impeccable Editorial and Production Process – There is an editorial process in place that preserves the integrity of the content and ensures that the thousands of online courses are uniform in their quality. Between the many talented editors and proofreaders, the extensive inventory undergoes frequent updating and fact checking.
  • Evidence-Based Practices – The site actively incorporates evidence-based practices in their online content whenever possible. Due to the fact that actual practitioners are the primary content contributors, the continuing education modules and seminars are always backed with insightful and relevant information.
  • Flawless CE Credentialing of Content – In an effort to make sure that each completed activity will satisfy the standards of accrediting bodies, the Nutrition Dimension team makes sure the CE credentialing associated with its educational offerings is the industry standard. They actively monitor new accreditation requirements or so that all of your efforts are sure to count.
  • Powerful Website and Online Transcript Technology – NutritionDimension.com is a powerful tool built by experts in the education industry. With a wide range of accredited content, the site’s online transcript feature keeps a record of your course completions and certificates so you can track your learning and submit a record of your contact hours with ease.
  • Expansive Library of CE Courses – With 75 CPEUs to earn for every recertification cycle, it helps to have a healthy variety of courses and content. With plenty to choose between, the content and courses are never stagnant and teach what you need before you know you need it.

4. Pick the Right CE Courses for You (Make a List)

There is a wide variety of CE topics and learning formats on NutritionDimension.com so it’s important to know which ones will help you succeed within your individual career. That said, we recommend that you design a short list of courses that you are required to take (or that simply interest you) and, when available, choose one of the following learning options that best suits you.

Online Courses:
Convenient, well-designed courses that let you work toward your goals anytime, anywhere.

Printed Books:
If a printed option is offered, you’ll see a book icon or option next to the course (like this course).

Webinars:
Engaging, live webinars are presented by leading experts in your field.

Once again, remember that your list of CE courses must include at least one required Ethics course for RDs to gain recertification. Learn more about the ethics course requirement.

Here are 10 of our most popular Dietetics/Nutrition CE courses:

5. Estimate the Cost to Complete Your CE

Aside from the time you’ll spend working toward your CE, there is an inherent amount of money that will be spent in the process as well. In all, the total cost of buying all of your CE courses could be as much as $1500-2000, however, you can roughly cut this figure in half with a CE-PRO membership at ce.nutritiondimension.com/ce-pro.

As an example, Debbie is an RD from Florida and she’s interested in enhancing her knowledge of the benefits of green tea – yes, she could take an independent course, which would cost her $59; however, with a CE-PRO membership this course would only cost $29.50 – a marked savings with enough left over to actually buy a box of Celestial Seasonings Decaf Green Tea from Amazon.com! In addition, with a CE-PRO membership, she could also preview the courses before she buys them. Learn more about a CE-PRO membership.

6. Start Learning!

With so many CPEUs to earn in each recertification period, it’s important to stay on top of the task. Luckily, NutritionDimension.com lets you learn anytime and from anywhere! In addition to the site, continuing education itself offers a number of amazing benefits that enrich your life and career.

Benefits of An “Always Learning” Mindset

Stay on the Cutting Edge:
Because the content is contributed by such a large cross-section of accredited professionals, based on their professional experience, the materials are always cutting edge, well informed and relevant.

Enhance Your Career:
CE is all about expanding your education within the field and benefiting from new, outside knowledge that you may not have had previously. By always learning new information and practices, you will surely grow as a professional in your field.

Improve Client / Patient Outcomes:
When learning from credentialed colleagues that are veterans in the business, there are always valuable tricks of the trade to be absorbed. The best continuing education courses are full of real-life vignettes and quizzes that help bring your new knowledge to life and prepare you to apply new techniques with patients.

Diversify Your Approach:
Although you may have been running your practice in one direction for the last five years, the recertification process is a great opportunity to learn from others, adopt their alternative methods and potentially change the way you do things, for the better.

7. Submit Your CPEU Certificates of Completion to CDR

Once you’ve completed your 75 CPEUs (50 for DTRs), you’ll need to submit your CPEU certificates of completion to CDR – this includes creating an activity log on www.cdrnet.org. Unless you want your work to be for nothing, this is an extremely important step so applicable deadlines should be noted!

The deadline for Registered Dietitians to submit their continuing education course certificates to CDR is May 31st.

8. Relax… For Now!

We understand meeting your continuing education requirements is an arduous process so once you’ve completed the previous seven steps, feel free to relax! Of course, your next recertification period will creep up before you know it (especially if your state requires a certain amount of CPEUs per year) so don’t take off too much time. Continuing education is a continuous journey and it should be fun. Congratulate yourself for a job well-done but also start setting preliminary goals for your next recertification period. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

There you have it, eight easy steps for achieving your dietitian and dietetic technician CE requirements. This is an intricate process so if ever there is any doubt, be sure to consult www.cdrnet.org early and often. Good luck!