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Regulation Matters 2021 - Issue 1, May

What Counts as a Practice Hour?

We know that due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  dietitians were redeployed to work in areas where they do not commonly work or outside their scope of practice. We heard that the redeployment of tasks includes contact management work, performing COVID testing, or following up with people regarding their status. For example, taking a health history, investigating symptoms/risk behaviours, e.g., asking about appetite, fever, GI symptoms), and being involved in teaching (e.g., to self-monitor). Some of these activities may count as a practice hour, and others may not. 
 
We have received inquiries from dietitians asking what tasks count as practice hours. The following information will help answer that question.

Review the Definition of Practicing Dietetics

When we receive inquiries from dietitians who are wondering if what they are doing counts as a practice hour, we ask them to review the definition of practicing dietetics, here are a few things to keep in mind: 
 

  1. The definition provides examples of activities for guidance, but it is not exhaustive.
     

  2. Out of province dietetic practise counts towards your practice hours, provided you are practicing dietetics according to the definition of practicing dietetics.
     

  3. The definition of practising dietetics is quite broad and includes various practice areas and workplace settings. Practicing dietetics does not only include dietitians who work directly with patients/clients.
     

  4. Practising dietetics can either be in a paid or unpaid capacity (e.g., volunteer work).
     

  5. Reflecting on the new Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice may help, as these are workplace abilities expected of a dietitian and the minimum level of knowledge, skills, and judgement expected of all dietitians at the point of entry into the profession in Canada to practise safely, effectively, and ethically.
     

  6. Know that professional development is not practising dietetics (please see article here). While professional development can help a dietitian maintain or increase competency, it is not practicing dietetics; it is professional development. 
     

  7. Ultimately, the purpose of the requirement to maintain at least 500 hours of dietetic practice is to ensure that dietitians can practice dietetics safely, ethically and competently. Consider this as the overarching principle when deciding whether a task falls within the definition of practicing dietetics.

 

IF YOU ARE PRACTICING DIETETICS, LIABILITY INSURANCE IS MANDATORY

Under the Registration Regulation, all members, including temporary members, who engage in the practice of dietetics and/or use the professional title of “Registered Dietitian” or “RD”, or the French equivalent, “diététiste professionel(le)” and “Dt.P” must maintain professional liability insurance. For more information please click here.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU PRACTICE FEWER THAN 500 HOURS IN THREE YEARS?

If you think you will be practicing fewer than 500 practice hours in three years, the Quality Assurance Program has options and a process where you can provide evidence of your continued competence. Here are examples of options:
 

  1. You can submit a learning diary of professional development. A learning diary is a record of your professional development that you may choose to submit to the College. A sample learning diary and template are here to guide you. You may start completing the journal well in advance of the renewal period if you think you will not have the hours of dietetic practice required. 
     

  2. You can choose an assessment of your practice competency. An assessment of practice competency is a scenario-based assessment in a chosen area of dietetic practice.

 
Access detailed information about learning diaries and competency assessments on the website.

If you are not practicing dietetics and do not intend to practice, additional options are:

  1. Signing a Voluntary Undertaking (VUT). This means that you agree that you are not practicing dietetics and will not return to dietetic practice until you have been assessed by the College as having the knowledge, skill and judgement to do so.

 

  1. Resigning. The College appreciates that you may not wish to sign a voluntary undertaking or submit to an assessment. If this is the case, the last option would be to resign your membership. 

 

We Care

Every year we receive declarations from dietitians who practice fewer than 500 hours over three years for various reasons. We know the challenges dietitians face in this pandemic unfolded over the past few months, in unique circumstances, in different practice environments, and with diverse client populations. We care about dietitians and how redeployment impacts practice. We want you to be aware of the options available to help you plan as best as you can.