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Professional Partnerships: Key to Dietetics Practice Success

White, Jane V. PhD, RD, FADA; Bielak, Kenneth M. MD, MBA; Rogers, Edwin S. PhD, ABPP; Lennon, Elizabeth S. MPH, BSN

Professional Network

Collaborative working relationships among health professionals are universally important and valuable to achieve and maintain. Yet such partnerships are critical to the provision of clinical nutrition services that are efficient and cost-effective. The ability of dietetics professionals to form and sustain professional partnerships is essential to the delivery of medical nutrition therapy, since it is provided and reimbursed based on physician diagnosis and relies heavily on referral by physicians or other health or social services team members. Techniques that facilitate communication and team building are described.

LIFESTYLE modifications to improve diet and increase physical activity are the cornerstone of interventions to improve health and reduce the incidence and severity of multiple chronic disease states. Healthy People 20101 encourages individuals, communities, and professionals to increase the proportion of persons appropriately counseled about health behaviors including diet. It emphasizes the need to form partnerships that facilitate a systematic approach to health improvement.

The US Preventive Services Task Force2 found good evidence to recommend medium- to high-intensity interventions that combine nutrition education with behaviorally oriented counseling to help adults with chronic diet-related disease acquire the skills, motivation, and support to alter food preparation practices and daily eating patterns. The Task Force states that counseling can be delivered by primary care clinicians (physicians, nurses, or nurse practitioners (NPs) and/or by referral to other specialists such as nutritionists or dietitians. The American Dietetic Association (ADA),3 Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure,4 Council for Nutritional Clinical Strategies in Long Term Care,5 Nutrition Screening Initiative,6 National Cholesterol Education Program: Adult Treatment Panel III,7 American Academy of Family Physicians,8 and Institute of Medicine,9 among others, recommend that primary care providers work in partnership with dietetics professionals to ensure provision of high quality nutritional care.

Department of Family Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, Tenn.

Corresponding author: Jane V. White, PhD, RD, FADA, Department of Family Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 1924 Alcoa Highway, Knoxville, TN 37920 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.