Buffalo State College’s Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics (HND) Department is proactively preparing for a new set of standards that will soon be required by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Commission on Dietetic Registration. Starting in 2024, the commission will require a master’s degree for registered dietitian (RD) and registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) certification.
In anticipation of the new requirements, the HND Department’s dietitian education program (DEP) and the Graduate School are investigating the possibility of adding a new graduate multidisciplinary track in dietetics, which is contingent on approval from the State University of New York (SUNY) and the New York Education Department. HND also preemptively applied for and was granted approval from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) under the new graduate degree standards.
Buffalo State’s undergraduate DEP has always maintained a leading edge. It is the only coordinated undergraduate program in the SUNY system in which graduates acquire all the education and supervised planned work experience required to take the RD or RDN exam. Therefore, the DEP should be able to seamlessly prepare students for RD and RDN careers in the future in keeping with the new requirements, according to Tina Colaizzo-Anas, associate professor and DEP director.
“The required competencies, where students must demonstrate skills and applicable knowledge to clients or patients, is something Buffalo State has been doing for 50 years,” Colaizzo-Anas said. “We were one of the first six programs in the country to integrate didactic (classroom) learning with supervised practice.
Since the program’s inception in 1971, about 700 Buffalo State DEP graduates have gone on to pursue careers as dietitians and nutritionists in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and public health institutions, as well as in private practice.
“The (DEP) program is one of two popular programs in the Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics Department,” said Carol DeNysschen, chair and professor of HND. “The collaboration of faculty from both dietetics and health and wellness programs continues to produce high-quality graduates, and we are happy to support the Buffalo State College mission.”
Knowing the changes were coming from ACEND, Colaizzo-Anas started conducting surveys five years ago with about 200 students, alumni, faculty, and employers, asking what they perceived as a need in a graduate dietetics program.
“This information, combined with the final Future Education Model graduate education standards released in 2017, informed the curriculum we could plan for Buffalo State’s proposed program,” she said.
About 70 percent of DEP undergraduates are nontraditional students; many have degrees in other disciplines, such as dental hygiene, nursing, or business.
“They want to transition into careers in dietetics and nutrition,” she said. “Nutrition is a hot topic, and the new accreditation standards have generated a lot of interest from prospective students through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. We anticipate continued healthy enrollment when the graduate program is approved.”
Photograph by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.