Regulation Matters 2019 - Issue 2

Professional Practice vs Professional Development

After a  dietitian has practiced dietetics as a general member of the College for three years, they must declare on their annual renewal form whether they have practiced at least 500 hours during that time.Those who declare having practiced fewer than 500 hours in the past three years are referred to the Quality Assurance (QA) Committee for assessment of their competency to practice safely.

The QA Committee considers the total hours practiced and the professional development completed in that period to determine a member’s competence to practice. When reporting their practice hours to the College, some dietitians are confused about what counts as practice and what is professional development. Understanding the difference between practice and development hours is important because only practice hours count toward the 500 hours of practice in the past three years.

Definition of Professional Practice

The College’s definition of practicing dietetics: “is paid or unpaid activities for which members use food & nutrition-specific knowledge, skills and judgment while engaging in: 
  • the assessment of nutrition related to health status and conditions for individuals and populations;
  • the management and delivery of nutrition therapy to treat disease;
  • the management of food services systems; building the capacity of individuals and populations to promote, maintain or restore health and prevent disease through nutrition and related means;
  • the management, education or leadership that contributes to the enhancement and quality of dietetic and health services.”


  • a dietitian developing nutrition labeling policies for a food company uses food and nutrition knowledge to develop the policies; 
  • a dietitian who works as the manager of a food and nutrition department and supervises dietitians; 
  • a dietitian who gives a presentation to a local community group about the new Canada’s Food Guide; 
  • a dietitian who is the director of risk management in a large hospital who provides consultation to a long-term care home about their patient menus. The dietitian is practicing dietetics when she is working as a consultant in the long-term care home because this activity relates to competency in dietetics. The hours worked in hospital risk management are not practicing dietetics.

Professional Development is Not Practicing Dietetics

Some members include professional development as practicing dietetics when they declare their practice hours. Professional development can help a dietitian maintain or increase competency, but it is not practicing dietetics.

Attending a workshop or webinar related to the revised Canada’s Food Guide, or about any other dietetic topic, is not practicing dietetics; it is professional development. A dietitian who is the director of emergency care in a hospital and makes a presentation about bed allocation in hospitals is not practicing dietetics and is not participating in professional development because this activity does not involve competencies in dietetics. 

Professional Activity must be Related to Dietetics

To be valid, all professional practice hours and professional development activities must be grounded in dietetics. 

For further information about practicing fewer than 500 hours, click here.