We all like to feel like we belong. We all need a support system that we can turn to for motivation and inspiration. For registered dietitians nutritionist and RD2Be’s, that support system has a name: dietetic practice groups. If you are just hearing about them for the first time or you want to learn more, just keep reading. We are about to get into all the details about dietetic practice groups.
What are dietetic practice groups (DPG)?
As defined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Dietetic Practice Groups are professional-interest groups, made up of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members, who wish to connect with other members within their areas of interest and/or practice.” Simply put, they are dietitians and RD2Be’s who are looking to share their passion with each other.
Who should join dietetic practice groups (DPG)?
All the members of the Academy have access to dietetic practice groups, and that includes active and retired members, as well as students and interns. This means that you will be able interact and learn from a wide range of professionals. You will meet experienced professionals as well as new dietetic students. No matter what stage of your professional career, you will benefit from these rich and stimulating groups.
How do I find the right DPG for me?
You might already have your eye on a specific area of dietetics. Or perhaps, you are still figuring out your niche. Either way, keep on reading to learn more about the 27 dietetic practice groups you can choose from.
If you are passionate about eating disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, addictions and/or mental illness, this DPG is for you. Dietitians who work in this field work in many different settings. These can include private practice, inpatient and outpatient care facilities, community settings, etc. They serve a variety of patients with different needs, like schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, ADHD, autism, or intellectual developmental disorders. Members of this DPG have access to a Member Marketplace where they can post books, guides, and business services such as trainings and web-based resources they have developed. There is even a student Facebook group.
These DPG members are interested in promoting cardiovascular health (both through prevention and treatment), well-being, and physical activity. These dietitians serve in diverse health arenas such as clinical settings, corporate well-being, community nutrition, private practice, research, education, and government. If you decide to join this DPG, you will have access to free webinars, workshops, EBSCO (Elton B. Stephens Company) database with over 10,000 journals and magazines on nutrition and health, networking opportunities, discussion forums, and much more.
Clinical Nutrition Management (CNM) members are managers of clinical nutrition programs in the health care field. Acute care, community services, long-term care, private practice, and government services are just some of the settings where these dietitians work. This DPG even has three subunits (Food and Nutrition Informatics, Quality and Process Improvement, Pediatric Management) where you can get even more specific resources for your particular interest or role.
The Diabetes dietetic practice group focuses on “optimizing the prevention and management of diabetes through person-centered care.” Its members are involved in the American Diabetes Association, Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, Diabetes Leadership Council, and Children with Diabetes. This DPG even has a Digital Influencer Bureau. Members of the Bureau are those who specialize in marketing or communication and have a strong presence in media or social media. So, if you are into TikTok and Instagram, this might be a great way for you to use all your influencer potential while also using your knowledge as a dietitian.
With almost 3,000 members in this DPG, these dietitians work in a wide variety of areas within health care, such as acute and long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, assisted living centers, retirement villages, home care companies, health maintenance organizations, foodservice industries, and more. Many resources such as standards of care, screening tools, resources for COVID-19, and food service management are available for free to all the members. This DPG also has specialty sub-units you can benefit from.
DBC defines its vision as a world where its “members have all the necessary business skills to guide food and nutrition related decisions in global businesses and industries.” These dietitians are working for or consulting with local or global corporations, businesses, or organizations in the food, nutrition communications, public relations, and healthcare industries, or are self-employed or business owners. Educational opportunities this dietetic practice group offers are up to date, and they match the real needs of dietitians in this field. How to Keep Your Virtual Audience Engaged, Turn Contacts into Contracts, and Simplify SEO Strategy are just some of the webinars they are offering. The self-matching mentoring program enables students to find a mentor that matches their individual goals and interests.
Members of this DPG advocate for the combination of conventional nutrition practices with evidence-based alternatives. Their philosophy centers around a “holistic, personalized approach to health and healing.” One of the interesting benefits you would have as a member is the access to the Natural Medicines Database, which is trusted source on dietary supplements. Their network includes many national and international organizations such as The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM), American Botanical Council, International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics to name a few.
The mission of this DPG is to encourage its members to be recognized leaders that provide state of the art medical nutrition care. Hospitals, long term care, assisted living, hospice outpatient clinics, dialysis clinics, industry, and corporate wellness programs are just some of the settings they work in. If you are looking for more specialized content or are looking to get specialized in a certain area of medical nutrition, you have 4 sub-units to choose from –Cystic Fibrosis, Dietitians in Gluten and Gastrointestinal Disorders (DIGID), Immunocompromised & Transplant Nutrition (ITN), and Dietitians in Physical Medicine & Rehab (DPM&R).
Dietitians in Nutrition Support dietetic practice group use their knowledge on enteral and parenteral nutrition “in order to provide appropriate nutrition support therapy to individuals encompassing adults, pediatrics, inpatients, outpatients, home care, and transplantation.” This group has its own YouTube channel, a podcast, and even a Virtual Interactive Journal Club! Some other great opportunities it offers include Skills Workshops where you can be trained on feeding tube placement among other useful skills, and Writer’s Mentoring Program for those who are just starting out in the scientific journals world and are preparing an article for publication; it “connects you with an experienced author to guide you through the writing process.”
FCP is made up of culinary educators, food writers, cookbook authors, chefs, marketing professionals, PR executives, food scientists, and media reporters. This dietetic practice group is committed to developing food expertise by increasing culinary skills and expanding career opportunities for dietitians. Subgroups they offer are Agriculture, Food Safety, Restaurant and Hospitality and Supermarket/Retail. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this group organized annual domestic and international Culinary Education Travel experiences, with some of the destinations being South East Asia, Greece, and Tuscany. Let’s hope they start doing them again soon!
This group is dedicated to equipping its members to be leaders in the promotion of life-long wellness, focusing on older adults. Members have access to resources such as Patient Education Resources, Student Resources, CSG study resources, and exclusive podcasts. Apart from the usual discussion forums, this DPG also has a LinkedIn group, which for sure makes networking much easier.
The Hunger and Environmental Nutrition dietetic practice group connects nutrition experts in food and water security, health, agriculture, and the environment that work towards sustainable and accessible food and water systems. On their website, you can find resources on organic farming or gain greater understanding of race and racial issues. Additionally, there is an outline of on-farm activities and projects that align with competencies required for the completion of an accredited dietetic internship.
Dietitians in this group hold leadership and management positions. One of their star activities is the virtual Master Meet-Ups. You get to discuss relevant topics including Budgets and Financial Management and How to Start and Manage a Strategic Project. Also, you could join their book club meeting that just had its first meeting a few weeks ago.
The mission of this DPG is to enhance skills of its members, so that they “effectively educate and communicate evidence-based nutrition information to the public.” Their members work in a variety of settings. These include, but not limited to, Business and Management, Food Industry, Education, Clinical Dietetics, Health Promotion, Nutrition Consulting, Private Practice, Public Health and Community Nutrition, and Communications and Public Relations. They have very useful resources on how to talk with legislators, learn about public policy, and advocate for the profession.
This DPG is a dynamic network of professionals who provide nutrition education for other allied health professionals, students, and residents. Its members come from a variety of backgrounds including academic, clinical, community, research, industry, and government. The exclusive content for members includes a collection of teaching tools and techniques.
Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG provides the members with tools to help them reach their professional and financial potential. This is the right place for all those dietitians looking to build and maintain a successful nutrition-related business. It offers the following subunits: Authors and Writers, Coaches, Corporate Wellness, Private Practice, Second Career Dietitian, Speakers and Media, Technology, and Social Media.
Launched in 2019, this is the Academy’s newest DPG. It enables dietitians to “share knowledge and insight, learn cutting edge technology, implement and improve current processes, and collaborate in ways never before possible.” This group’s website also includes a Job Postings & Opportunities page. Members can both see and post new job openings.
The group aims to provide dietitians with resources and networking opportunities to deal with the complexities of oncology practice. This encompasses research, prevention, treatment, recovery, palliative care, and hospice. Its members work in clinical, public health, education, and research settings. This DPG has two subgroups: Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Pediatric Oncology.
This dietetic practice group connects dietitians working to provide best nutritional care for the infant, child, and adolescent population. Some interesting and useful resources are Infant Formula Tables, Malnutrition resources, and a list of Internships with a pediatric-related focus. There are also a wide range of webinars on plant-based eating for children, food allergies, support for children, and families with weight concerns.
To serve the public through the promotion of optimal nutrition is the main mission of this group of professionals. Its members work closely with other health professionals and stake holders. They are involved in program planning and evaluation, education, direct care and consultation services, policy, and research. On the group’s website, you can find specific resources and educational material for the nutrition professionals, consumers, researchers, and students.
Members of this group “provide medical nutrition therapy in dialysis facilities, clinics, hospitals, university settings, and private practice.” This practice group stands out for its abundant resources on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access. The membership also includes access to Patient Education Handouts.
They describe themselves as “an enthusiastic group” “comprised of nutrition and dietetic professionals who conduct, disseminate, interpret, and apply food, nutrition and dietetic research.” Researchers in this group have a wide range of interests: clinical nutrition, community nutrition, health literacy, nutrition epidemiology, health outcomes, and functional foods just to name a few. If you’re a student, check out their “student page.”
This group lists providing leadership in school nutrition services, influencing key food, nutrition and health initiatives, and promoting and supporting nutrition education in the school community as some of their main areas of focus. Its members work in school districts, federal and state agencies, business and industry, and colleges and universities. The Instagram profile of this DPG is pretty active. Check it out to get a glimpse of what they are up to these days.
The Sports and Human Performance Nutrition DPG is comprised of nutrition professionals working with athletes and people at all levels of human performance. SHPN provides content “tailored for human performance in sports as well as military, tactical and performing arts, and those who are first responders.” This group envisions a “world where all people perform to their potential, powered by nutrition.”
Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice group members are dietitians that either want to learn more or are already knowledgeable about plant-based diets and want to keep learning and share their expertise with others. The membership includes many relevant webinars. Topics include Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Food and Sustainability, and Managing Diabetes using a plant-based diet approach. One fun activity that was recently organized by this group was recipe contest for members.
Professionals in this group focus exclusively on weight management prevention and treatment. Subunits offered in this group include: Bariatrics, Pediatric Weight Management, and Weight and Wellness Coaching. You’ll have access to Quick Guides, Payment Resources, Research Briefs, and Client Resources.
This dietetic practice group “addresses health, nutrition, and policy issues that are unique to women including preconception, prenatal, postpartum, lactation and menopause.” As a member you can use the group’s discussion board to connect and receive advice from dietitians specializing in PCOS, endometriosis, fertility, pregnancy, lactation, menopause, chronic disease, and more. Recently, the group started a series of articles and Instagram posts called Candid Conversations in order to highlight the work done by WH DPG Student Partners.
Find your tribe, Nail your niche
Now that we went over all the dietetic practice groups, you might be thinking… there are so many DPGs that interest you, so how do you pick just one? At the beginning of this article, you may have just been introduced to this concept of DPGs; and now you’re supposed to pick just one you want to join? But the good thing is you don’t have to pick just one! You can join as many DPGs as you wish.
From year to year, you may want to try out different dietetic practice groups. You can take a peek into all the ones that interest you, learn about what they offer, and meet their members. This will help you make an informed decision and give you a ‘feel’ for the group. Then you can ultimately settle on the one DPG that suits you best.
I do not recommend joining too many at one time because that will probably lead to more confusion. It will be difficult for you to distinguish and remember which groups you preferred over the others.
Find What Excites You
As you switch through different groups you will start noticing that some topics or areas of dietetics intrigue you more than others. There are going to be discussion boards or webinar topics from certain groups that excite you. There will be members of different groups where you will find more commonalities. Embrace these dietitians with open arms. These are your people.
Once you discover the right group for you, it will become your home base. It will be a place where you can come to discuss and exchange opinions and share your personal experiences with others who are just as passionate as you are. This is why it’s so important to find ‘your place’ within the Academy that will feel like home. So, try as many as you need to ask your questions, and do your networking magic.
Once you find the right DPG(s), make the most out of it
Stay Up to Date on Related Research and Trends
The scientific world is ever evolving. New research is constantly coming out, new guidelines are being published, and it is hard to keep up. As a member of a DPG, you are always up to date with all the latest research. You will have access to webinars, workbooks, newsletters, and other resources that will make it easier for you to apply these scientific findings in your everyday work.
Continuing Education Made Easy
Does the acronym CEUs sound familiar? Yes, we are talking about Continuing Education Units or Continuing Professional Education credits. They are ‘points,’ which you need to acquire to keep your dietetic credential up to date. Once you have found your niche inside the Academy, you will find yourself collecting CEUs more easily. Just by reading the CEU articles in their newsletters and watching their webinars, DPGs will often offer continuing educations credits. Just don’t forget to download your certificate later and file it away for your professional development portfolio (PDP).
The Art of Networking
This is the best part of belonging to a dietetic practice group. You will be able to connect with others who hold positions similar to yours, or positions you aspire to hold. This is where you might find your next big job offer or volunteering opportunity. More experienced members can provide insight and guidance. They can share experience on patient cases, ethical dilemmas, or business endeavors you are about to undertake. You will never be on your own. Dietetic practice groups’ mission is to support you. They provide you with all the resources you need to excel at your job and improve along the way.
Remember, this is your home, your tribe. They understand where you are coming from, and they share your same vision and passion for that specific field. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, look for advice, or promote your own work and achievements. All these will add value to the group and can be an encouragement for others to keep learning and improving.