At the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference (Boston, MA, Nov. 6-9), several presentations took place featuring the research and scholarly work of faculty, students and alumni from the Department of Nutrition Science and Dietetics. A poster presentation entitled, “Leadership, Mentoring and Retirement Intentions Among Dietitians in Central New York,” assessed the beliefs and attitudes of Central New York registered dietitians  (RDs) on the topics of succession, leadership and mentoring. It also described the retirement intentions and leadership and mentoring needs among RDs employed in Central New York.

This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted by graduate nutrition students and their faculty member as part of a graduate research methods course. Study variables included: demographic information, current area of practice, beliefs about future employment trends, retirement intentions and attitudes regarding leadership and mentoring.  Institutional Review Board approval was obtained prior to data collection. Two hundred forty-two RDs were invited to participate in the electronic survey and complete data were obtained for 121 participants (response rate 50%).   Descriptive statistics and Chi-Square analyses were performed using SPSS software.  Half of RDs were over 46 years old and a majority (77%) had completed some graduate coursework or beyond.  Retirement intentions show that most RDs (59%) plan on retiring in more than 15 years, with 6.8% planning on retiring within the next 5 years.  While 82% of RDs agreed that mentoring future leaders is important, 56% agreed (and 13% strongly agreed) that RDs in management/ leadership positions are mentoring upcoming dietitians to be future leaders.  Overall, since many RDs plan on staying in practice for at least the next fifteen years an opportunity exists for current RDs to adequately mentor future RDs towards leadership/ management roles.

The poster presentation summarized research findings that examined how many RDs were planning to retire in the near future and whether newer RDs are being mentored into management and leadership positions adequately to ensure a solid foundation for future practice.  A majority of the RDs agreed or strongly agreed that mentoring was important and most in management-level positions reported that they are mentoring RDs to take on management/leadership roles.

L-R:  Qianzhi Jiang (grad student), Collette Powers (former grad student/current dietetic intern), Lynn Brann, assistant profesor, Kathryn DeIeso-Szklany (grad student), Sarah Formoza (former grad student/current dietetic intern), Cindy Chan Phillips (grad student), Debra Connolly (dietetic internship director). Others who participated but were not at the conference: Laura Stuart (former grad student) and Chaya Charles (grad student/dietitian).

Other presentations at FNCE included:

  • Associate professor Tanya Horacek was the lead author on  the following presentations: (1) Participatory research with college students identifies quality of life and stress as key issues for obesity prevention” (Note: this article was also co-authored by assistant professor of Health and Wellness, Dessa Bergen-Cico). (2) Obesity prevention: An assessment & comparison of 14 campuses’ walkability and bike-ability.”

Horacek co-authored the following presentations (those marked with * were led by partners on the Healthy Campus Project):
“Process evaluation of Project Web Health: Behavior change intervention for obesity prevention in young adults,” (Note: Syracuse University alumna, Colleen Boyle Dour, MS, was the lead author.)
“Assessment of the food and eating environment on college campuses using a modified version of the nutrition environment measures survey for restaurants (nems-r)” (Note: Syracuse University alumna, Maria Erdman, MS, RD, was the lead author.)
“Use of a geographic information system to determine environmental support for healthful living on a northeastern university campus.”*
“Use of a multi-phase community assessment model to identify behavioral and environmental influences of obesity for young adults.”*
“University food environment: An assessment of the nutrient-density of vending machine foods.”*
“Vending machines impact on discretionary calorie consumption.”*

  • Instructor Sudha Raj presented, “Setting the stage for change: bridge the gap and open your mind – cross cultural coaching culture symposium.”