UND senior Dietetics major, Regin Gallagher can be described as a go-getter, a high achiever, and now a Board Member. This year, Gallagher was elected as the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Student Representative-elect for the 2015-2016 Board. The ACEND Board is the governing unit of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) which grants accreditation awards to educational programs that prepare students for careers as registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) or dietetic technicians, registered (DTR).
The ACEND Board is composed of 15 members. One student in the nation is selected each year to be appointed to the Board which is highly competitive. Gallagher chose to apply for the Student Representative position when Doris Wang, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, brought the opportunity to her attention.
“After researching ACEND and how they impact the profession, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Gallagher.
To apply, she had to complete an application, provide a resume, a letter of interest, and a letter of recommendation to the board by October 31, 2014. The ACEND Nominating Committee reviewed the applications and the pool of nationwide applicants was narrowed down to about five. Then, the five candidates received a phone interview and from there the pool was narrowed to two or three selections. The Nominating Committee presented the three candidates at the January 2015 ACEND Board meeting where the board members made the final selection of the student representative. Based upon a majority vote, Gallagher was elected to a two-year term on the ACEND Board.
Her first year on the board is considered the “elect year,” meaning she does not have voting privileges. During this year, Gallagher will learn the knowledge required to make thorough decisions regarding accreditation during her second year, which is called the “voting term,” as she will have voting privileges on the board. During the “elect year” she will participate in board meetings and discussions, serve as an active member on the ACEND Nominating Committee, and serve as an ACEND liaison to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Advisory Committee (AND SAC). During her “voting term”, she will no longer serve as the ACEND liaison to AND SAC but rather will have full voting privileges on the board.
As the student representative, Gallagher is responsible for completing educational program reviews and determining if the ACEND educational standards are being met. More specifically, she represents the students and ensures that each educational program meets the students’ needs, recognizes student’s voices, and provides the necessary resources students need to become competent and confident entry-level Dietitians.
“Regin’s enthusiasm for nutrition and dietetics, her academic and personal achievements, and her organizational and interpersonal skills make her a prime representation of the student perspective on the ACEND Board of Directors,” said Wang.
The ACEND Board meets monthly via teleconference and in person twice yearly in Chicago in June and January. In addition, each board member is required to serve on a committee within the Board and participate in one to two teleconference meetings each month. During the board meetings, the members determine accreditation statuses for all dietetic education programs in the nation. Further, the board determines the requirements and standards of each program.
“The future of dietetics education is changing in an exciting way,” said Gallagher. “Currently, registered dietitians need to complete a baccalaureate degree and 1,200 hours of supervised practice in order to sit for the registered dietitian exam, standards developed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). CDR has changed exam prerequisites to 1,200 hours of supervised practice and a master's degree. Because of this, in addition to determining accreditation status, ACEND is developing competencies for master's level dietetic education and baccalaureate level dietetic technician, registered education.”
The standards for accreditation and the changes to the field are what excite Gallagher about her role on ACEND’s board. She has also learned a great deal about nutrition and dietetics education and the importance and significance of program accreditation and is pleased to serve a role in the future of the dietetics profession.
“I look forward to ensuring that students are protected and put at the forefront of this transition during my remaining time on the Board. At the end of the day, the work that ACEND is doing is shaping the future dietetics education; that is something I am honored and proud to be a part of,” said Gallagher.
The future is bright for the Nutrition and Dietetics profession but for this young Dietitian, the future is even brighter with a full resume and knowledge of the field that will provide her with what is sure to be a successful Dietetic career.