Dual RN-RDN program: Training for the future of health and nutrition

Nancy L. Fahrenwald, De Ann J. Liska, Karen Geismar, Patrick J. Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Explore the benefits and feasibility of a dual training program for dietetics and nursing to increase nutrition in clinical practice. Methods: A professional interest survey on the perceived value of a dual program with 222 registered nurses (RN) and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) and an in-depth literature review were completed. Results: A majority of RNs indicated the addition of the RDN would be beneficial for supporting patients with diet-related chronic diseases and performing nutritional assessments and interventions. The RDN respondents indicated a dual program approach would also improve the ability to serve a small community or place of employment that is limited in having both a full-time RDN and RN, and rated benefits for performing more medical and laboratory procedures. The RDNs also indicated the dual program could help increase their income potential. Both dual Master's and dual Bachelor's programs were rated as valuable. Of the 18 (8%) of respondents who had both RDN and RN credentials, half indicated personal growth and interest was the incentive for pursuing the dual training; whereas half indicated professional incentives (e.g., no RDN in the area, improving specialty care, job security, lack of opportunities), The literature review indicated no studies on the efficacy of a dual RDN-RN program on health outcomes; however, studies have shown that individualized counseling from RDNs is more beneficial than general nutritional counselling from other health care providers not specifically trained in dietary assessments. Noted barriers to pursuing dual training included time and cost, and some respondents in both specialties were not interested in a dual program. Discussion: These results support providing students with dual program options, although further exploration of the specific approach is warranted, particularly decreasing time-to-degree while not affecting efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-292
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Dietetics
  • Education
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Interprofessional
  • Nursing
  • Nutritionist
  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Nutritionists
  • Dietetics/education
  • Humans
  • Nurses
  • Nutritional Status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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