Benefits and Challenges of Dietitians Working Remotely

The Great Resignation is living up to its name. Dietitians and other healthcare clinicians are quitting their jobs in droves, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone to fill their places. We also find ourselves amid a surge in working remotely. Have you considered a remote or hybrid employee to fill your vacancy? Here’s why you should.

Benefits

Find help…fast. Remote work is highly in-demand. In fact, many dietitians are looking exclusively for remote jobs and won’t consider an in-person position. If your job can accommodate remote work—even partially—think seriously about allowing for a fully or partially remote schedule. You’re likely to fill your job much faster.

Expand your candidate pool. By posting your job as “remote” or “hybrid,” candidates from far and wide will see your job. You’ll have more eyes reading your posting and (hopefully) more applications in your inbox. This can be especially helpful if the job is in a remote area with a low density of dietitians.

Search other job markets. If you’re working with Dietitians On Demand, our Regional Account Managers can attest to how wildly popular remote jobs are. They can advertise the job to larger job markets, more densely populated areas, and locations where we have a high number of dietitian contacts. Basically, everywhere. Casting a broader net will snag just the right fish, er, candidate for your facility.

Overcoming Challenges

Understandably, there are some qualms about allowing a clinician who has always worked on-site to complete duties partially or totally from home. Unfortunately, the current reality for some healthcare facilities is to either adapt to the needs of modern-day candidates or come to terms with the possibility of no dietitian coverage. With an open mind, consider these tips to overcome strategies of remote work in a healthcare setting.

Technology and security. One of the biggest worries associated with completing work off-site is HIPAA-related security. How can you ensure that all confidential patient data remain protected outside the walls of your facility? The best way is for the remote worker to use a facility-issued laptop to access patient information. This computer should be password protected and kept in a safe location.

If this isn’t possible, the next best thing is a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN can be accessed from a personal computer and will give access to the electronic medical record (EMR) through a secure connection. No information is downloaded to the employee’s personal computer, and all EMR apps remain password protected. When work is completed for the day, the employee logs out of the VPN, and their personal computer has no trace of confidential patient information.

Charting. Reviewing confidential patient information can be completed using the recommendations discussed above. Some facilities may choose to allow employees to work remotely to chart patient assessment only. In other words, the dietitian is on-site in the mornings to visit and assess patients/residents, then completes charting at home. This can work well for individuals with young or school-aged children.

Patient/Resident assessments. Talking to and physically assessing patients and residents is very important when completing a nutrition assessment. How can this be done remotely? Phone calls can be used for the nutrition interview and history. Plus, lots of information can be gleaned from a chart review. As for the physical assessment, this is more challenging. A dietitian can review nursing and physician physical assessments and piece together what they can. However, a full nutrition-focused physical exam is nearly impossible to complete remotely.

Communication with the interdisciplinary team. Continuing to share the dietitian’s recommendations and discuss potential concerns is vitally important, especially when the dietitian is working remotely. Rely on phone calls and communication built into the EMR. Many EMR systems have secure chat and “sticky note” features to allow text-based communication. Dietitians working off-site can have office phones forwarded to their personal numbers and bring pagers home for uninterrupted communication.

Like it or not, the workforce is changing. More and more individuals are looking for remote or hybrid jobs. Healthcare is no exception. Although staffing remote dietitians may not be the ideal scenario, having no dietitian coverage is certainly the worst-case scenario. If you need hiring assistance for your open dietitian job, let Dietitians On Demand help.

Sara Glanz, registered dietitian

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC worked as a traveling dietitian for Dietitians On Demand for two years before joining the team as the corporate dietitian. In this role, she has championed the continuing education program to empower dietitians everywhere to achieve their professional goals.

Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing and recruiting company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. We’re dedicated to dietitians and helping them enhance their practice and excel in the workplace. Check out our job openings, request your coverage, or visit our store today! 

Who We Are

Dietitians On Demand is the nationwide leader in dietitian staffing. We streamline the clunky recruiting and hiring process. When you submit a coverage request, you’re immediately connected to our experienced team who take the time to understand exactly what your facility needs. Your personalized Regional Account Manager finds the ideal candidate for your situation and workplace culture.

Learn More