Benefits of Staffing an On-Site Clinical Dietitian

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has boomed in many professions. As a very hands-on, in-person field, most healthcare clinicians never transitioned to remote work. However, dietitians were the exception. We have seen the ebb and flow of interest in remote work for clinical dietitians. While remote work has its perks, there are lots of benefits to having an on-site dietitian.

Out of sight, out of mind

How many times do dietitians get involved in a patient or client’s clinical care simply by being present? For example, when you cross paths with a doctor in the hallway and she asks your opinion on the patient in room 501. Or when you can guide the treatment for a new resident admitted with a history of malnutrition. When dietitians are out of sight, nutrition care is out of mind. And don’t even get us started on the importance of good nutrition care to clinical outcomes!

HIPAA considerations

Any time protected health information (PHI) is taken off-premises, the odds of having a security breach are higher. Although no dietitian has any nefarious intentions to abuse private information, unfortunate events can happen. When a dietitian is working from home, consideration must be given to the privacy of any PHI that could be accessible to other members of the household.

The patient experience

There is something to be said for a face-to-face meeting with a patient or resident. There are small interactions that add up to building rapport and trust—a smile, gentle touch, and nonverbal cues. Dietitians and other clinicians incorporate these actions unconsciously, but when they are missing, it makes for a cold and impersonal interaction. Worst case scenario, the patient or client doesn’t see or hear from the dietitian at all. Patients become powerless and feel as though they can’t participate in their care.

Communication concerns

When a dietitian is taken off-site, there is now a communication barrier between him/her and everyone else who is on-site—the foodservice team, physicians, case managers, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, MDS coordinators, and the list goes on. Healthcare is a fast-paced environment that relies on clear communication to reduce costly errors. Why complicate communication?

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Quality of care

In recent years, there has been a huge push for dietitians to incorporate the nutrition focused physical exam (NFPE) into their nutrition assessments. The exam can only be completed with an in-person visit. Assessing patients or residents remotely blinds the clinician and makes it impossible to complete a thorough assessment. As a result, the quality of nutrition care suffers.

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 the nationwide leader in staffing registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long-term care and food service positions. Our dietitians cover a vacancy, maternity leave, FMLA or increases in census. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!