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Leadership in dietetics

is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and
inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the
passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers”—Robin
S. Sharma, a leadership speaker.

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It is
expected that there will be a new style of leadership in dietetics field in the
21st century according to Ralphenia Diggs Pace (1995). New Age leaders
should demonstrate communication skills, motivational skills and abilities to
inspire every individual in the team to be responsible for taking actions or
making decisions (RDP, 1995). This concept had been expressed by the mission of
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), stating that leadership is not solely
to those in top positions, instead, it is each Registered Dietitian
Nutritionists’ responsibility to lead. According to the definition of
leadership by AND, leaders should be able to inspire and guide other team
members toward establishing and achieving a shared vision.

Carol Porter
() had identified key leadership characteristics as competence, confidence and
risk-taking. Communication skills were seen as the most important leadership skill
in dietetic students, who saw themselves as leaders (KRM,
2013). Communication with clients and other
professionals is the foundation of dietetic practice, and it is directly linked
to effectiveness in client’s care (CDO, 2015). Professionals need to increase
attention to wording, body language and improve their listening skills in order
to communicate efficiently (CDO, 2015). Porter also believes that educational
institutions should prepare students to become competent, accurate, safe
practitioners and leaders. Dietetics professional practice stage could help
students to develop these skills. To develop and demonstrate leadership skills
during stage, dietetics students should follow the legislation, regulations and
ethics, for example, the Principles of Professional Practice by Dietitians of
Canda, and OPDQ Dietitian’s Code of Ethics. Students should adapt to interdisciplinary
working environment, and learn how to communicate and to collaborate effectively
with other health professionals.

students believed that demonstrating leadership skills could help to advocate
and gain more recognition for the profession, could help in their own professional
growth and recognition, could impact people in a positive manner (KRM, 2013). In
the past, improved nutrition training of other professionals posed a threat to
the authority of clinical dietitian because of problems of job expectations,
education, training and self-image among dietitians (Nestle, 1984). Therefore,
it is crucial for dietetic interns and dietitians to demonstrate professionalism
and leadership to help to improve the status and visibility of dietitians’
roles in health care system (Nestle, 1984).

In short,
leadership is essential in dietetic practice, and everyone from students to
experienced practitioners should develop and demonstrate good leadership skills
in order to provide client’s care efficiently.

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