For the past several years, I have volunteered my time with the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in some capacity. I have served on the Annual Conference planning committee, as reimbursement representative, on the licensure task force, and for the past two years as the Professional Development Co-Chair. Our board and different task force committees are made up of very few, despite the fact that there are over 4,000 dietitians in Michigan.
The Michigan Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics is a state affiliate to the national Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND). AND is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917, by a visionary group of women dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve public health and nutrition during World War I. The goals of the Michigan academy are to 1) ensure that the Michigan public trusts and chooses dietitians as food and nutrition experts, 2) improves the health of Michigan consumers, and 3) provide vast professional development opportunities to all members and non-members.
As a Michigan RD, with 9 years of dietetics practice under my belt, I feel that is it part of my responsibility to advocate for the nutrition experts in Michigan in order to serve consumers safely and effectively. All our committee members are extremely busy with multiple jobs, contract work, and families; however, we all find time to volunteer and serve our members and the public. Below are the reasons I feel strongly about serving and giving the gift of my time:
- I want to lead the Academy in a positive direction. The only way to make positive change and impact is to serve and be a part of what is happening. If you tend to complain about the direction of your organization or association, become involved and speak up.
- It’s a great way to network with colleagues. We all lead such different lives, from work to personal. I find great joy in getting to know people and learning from them. Getting involved in your association is an extremely effective way to keep up with the current trends and activities going on in your field and to develop positive relationships with your colleagues.
- I am advocating every day for licensure. Michigan is one of three states that does not have state licensure for dietitians. States’ professional licensing laws help consumers identify who is a qualified practitioner to provide a particular set of specified services, known as the profession’s scope of practice. Some individuals are not qualified for licensure because they lack the education, experience, and examination demonstrating their competency to provide services within the regulated profession’s scope of practice. Ultimately, licensure prevents harm and protects against unsafe or inaccurate nutrition advice or interventions that may lead to poor or even dangerous health outcomes — and unnecessary, expensive products or services.
- I want to provide learning opportunities for students and all members. As the professional development chair, I am currently helping to plan and organize our 2019 Annual Conference. This conference is our big event of the year, where members, non-members, retirees, students and interns are able to network, earn continuing education credits, and celebrate all of the amazing nutrition work going on in Michigan. Below is a video I developed to explain why dietitians should attend our conference.
If you are a dietitian and want to get involved in the board or one of our task forces, do not hesitate to reach out to us!