By Heidi Williams
If you’re not a dietitian, but it’s your job to hire a dietitian, you may find yourself wondering, “How does my dietitian stack up?” Even if you don’t have the clinical background of a registered dietitian, we’re sharing a few items that anyone can check to determine if a dietitian is performing well.
1. Basic credentials
Becoming a registered dietitian is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. At the very minimum, a registered dietitian should:
- Have a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, or related field from an accredited college or university.
- Have completed an accredited, supervised practice program, known as an internship.
- Pass the RD exam, a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
With all these, a registered dietitian is then eligible to obtain their registration number from CDR. They’ll have this throughout their career, and it’s a national credential. Did you know you can verify a registered dietitian’s credentials at any time? CDR provides this online resource that you can utilize as long as you have the dietitian’s CDR number.
2. Benchmarking Work Quantity
It’s important to have quantity benchmarks for a dietitian to assess their productivity. These vary among sites based on census and acuity level, and should be tempered with any additional dietitian responsibilities, such as community engagement or management duties.
There aren’t necessarily set minimums for assessments to expect per day, but if you’re looking for a number, start tracking things these over time and to see trends:
- Inpatient or outpatient dietitian hours per patient/resident day
- Inpatient or outpatient dietitian hours per patient/resident meal
- Inpatient or outpatient dietitian hours per adjusted patient/resident day
3. Benchmarking Work Quality
Quantity isn’t the only indicator of a successful dietitian. Before hiring a dietitian, it’s a great idea to have a competency assessment, or situation-based interview questions to test the quality of the information they’re sharing. For example, questions about modified diets, nutrition support, and HIPAA are all important to review.
Here are a few sample questions:
- A patient has lost weight from 180 lbs to 145 lbs in the past six months. What percentage weight loss does this represent?
- What are the estimated daily protein needs for a patient receiving hemodialysis three times per week?
- Which lab values are associated with refeeding syndrome?
If you don’t know what constitutes quality work for a registered dietitian, chart audits by a fellow dietitian can be helpful, too. At the end of a chart audit, these questions can be asked of the auditor:
- Did he/she demonstrate thorough understanding of the Nutrition Care Process (Assessments, Diagnosis, Intervention, Monitoring, Evaluation)?
- Was he/she able to accurately estimate calorie, protein, and fluid needs?
- How effective is he/she at getting recommendations carried out?
After all the training a dietitian has been through (see No. 1), acting as a confident yet conscientious professional who works as part of a team should come naturally. Take note of how your dietitian interacts with everyone on staff. Is he effective in getting his recommendations carried out? Does she communicate well with nursing, physicians, kitchen staff and patients?
A registered dietitian is a specially-skilled and crucial part of a care team in hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and all other clinical settings. In fact, with a qualified dietitian or two on staff you may even see cost savings related to reductions in length of stay, improved patient outcomes, and higher reimbursement for malnutrition claims.
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to hiring a great dietitian, let us help! With more than 15 years of experience hiring some of the best dietitians in the country, we know how to do dietitian staffing the RIGHT way.
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, vacations, FMLA or increases in census. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!