Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Dian O. Weddle

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Susan P. Himburg

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Ralph Lewis

Fourth Advisor's Name

Fatma G. Huffman

Date of Defense



In the year 2001, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will begin a new process of recertifying Registered Dietitians (RD) using a self-directed lifelong learning portfolio model. The model, entitled Professional Development 2001 (PD 2001), is designed to increase competency through targeted learning. This portfolio consists of five steps: reflection, learning needs assessment, formulation of a learning plan, maintenance of a learning log, and evaluation of the learning plan. By targeting learning, PD 2001 is predicted to foster more up-to-date practitioners than the current method that requires only a quantity of continuing education hours. This is the first major change in the credentialing system since 1975. The success or failure of the new system will impact the future of approximately 60,000 practitioners. The purpose of this study was to determine the readiness of RDs to change to the new system. Since the model is dependent on setting goals and developing learning plans, this study examined the methods dietitians use to determine their five-year goals and direction in practice. It also determined RD's attitudes towards PD 2001 and identified some of the factors that influenced their beliefs. A dual methodological design using focus groups and questionnaires was utilized. Sixteen focus groups were held during state dietetic association meetings. Demographic data was collected on the 132 registered dietitians who participated in the focus groups using a self-administered questionnaire. The audiotaped sessions were transcribed into 643 pages of text and analyzed using Non-numerical Unstructured Data- Indexing Searching and Theorizing (NUD*IST version 4). Thirty-four of the 132 participants (26%) had formal five-year goals. Fifty-four participants (41 %) performed annual self-assessments. In general, dietitians did not currently have professional goals nor conduct self-assessments and they claimed they did not have the skills or confidence to perform these tasks. Major barriers to successful implementation of PD 2001 are uncertainty, misinterpretation, and misinformation about the process and purpose, which in turn contribute to negative impressions. Renewed vigor to provide a positive, accurate message along with presenting goal-setting strategies will be necessary for better acceptance of this professional development process.




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