SEED: Striving for Excellence and Equality in Dietetics
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement permeated every facet of our community in 2020, not because it was new but because it was undeniable that action was necessary. The movement urged people to take action because a failure to do so signified complicity. Racial inequality should be confronted wherever you find it, and this includes our profession of dietetics.
Dietetics comprises many fierce and brilliant professionals, but unfortunately, it is not very diverse. According to the Academy/Commission on Dietetic Registration 2020 Needs Satisfaction Survey, only 16% of dietitians identified themselves as members of a minority group with 6% Hispanic or Latino, 3% African American, 5% Asian, and 3% Other. This percentage is lower than the percentage found in other healthcare professions, which is a disservice to the profession.
Factors influencing the low percentage of minorities in our profession include: systemic challenges in college admissions, financial constraints to pursuing a degree, unpaid yearlong internships, lack of reprehensive or diverse mentorship, and a lack of awareness of our occupation among college applicants. These are the same challenges facing many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including our own Virginia State University (VSU), now facing a reduction in its dietetics program.
Consequently, we intend to increase the visibility of our profession to attract diverse applicants and diverse patients. We also seek to sponsor diverse students to help students overcome financial barriers and actively collaborate with others to achieve these goals.