Professional Development | Apr 1 2020
How to promote yourself as the nutrition expert on an interdisciplinary team
Registered dietitians (RDs) are becoming increasingly valued professionals to have on interdisciplinary teams in a wide variety of settings. RDs are required members of interdisciplinary teams in acute care and long-term care. However, interdisciplinary teams including RDs are also found in public health, food service, and corporations, among other settings. Regardless of the setting you work in, when you are a RD on an interdisciplinary team you are there to provide your nutrition expertise to help achieve the team’s common goal. How do you help achieve that goal if you are not being viewed as the nutrition expert you are?
There are endless reasons why you may sense that the interdisciplinary team does not view you as the nutrition expert. Some of these include:
- You are a newer member to the team, and the team was handling nutrition without you before you got there. This can be particularly true of nurses, physicians, or health educators who are used to providing nutrition care without partnering with a RD.
- Your education and training are misunderstood to be something different than what it is.
- Members of the team do not view nutrition as an evidenced-based science.
- You are saying something different than the trend members of the team are following in their personal life.
Regardless of why the interdisciplinary team is not giving you the credence as the nutrition expert you are due, it is imperative to demonstrate to the team that you are, in fact, the nutrition expert and that this expertise is valuable toward achieving the common team goal, whatever that may be. Here are some ways to change the tide with those team members:
- Don’t take it personally—often this perception was established before you even came on the scene.
- Politely interject your perspective, even if you have nothing to change, just so others know what you are doing. For example, if attending an interdisciplinary care plan meeting in long-term care or patient rounds in acute care, mention that the patient is eating well and doesn’t show any signs or symptoms of malnutrition. Now, the team may better understand what you do.
- Find something to agree on, even if it is something small, before stating to disagree.
- When you disagree or need to show another perspective, use evidence. Refer to guidelines or current research to support what you are saying so that the team knows you are informed and that you represent the science behind the nutrition care.
- Value what others bring to the table, even if you don’t fully agree. Show appreciation for their expertise; maybe they will return the sentiment.
Being a good teammate lays the groundwork for mutual respect, regardless of your area of work or expertise. Once this groundwork is laid, you can begin to demonstrate your nutrition expertise and the value you bring to the team, knowing it will be received to help achieve the team’s goal.
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