It isexpected that there will be a new style of leadership in dietetics field in the21st century according to Ralphenia Diggs Pace (1995). New Age leadersshould demonstrate communication skills, motivational skills and abilities toinspire every individual in the team to be responsible for taking actions ormaking decisions (RDP, 1995). This concept had been expressed by the mission ofAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), stating that leadership is not solelylimitedto those in top positions, instead, it is each Registered DietitianNutritionists’ responsibility to lead. According to the definition ofleadership by AND, leaders should be able to inspire and guide other teammembers toward establishing and achieving a shared vision.Carol Porter() had identified key leadership characteristics as competence, confidence andrisk-taking. Communication skills were seen as the most important leadership skillin dietetic students, who saw themselves as leaders (KRM,2013).
Communication with clients and otherprofessionals is the foundation of dietetic practice, and it is directly linkedto effectiveness in client’s care (CDO, 2015). Professionals need to increaseattention to wording, body language and improve their listening skills in orderto communicate efficiently (CDO, 2015). Porter also believes that educationalinstitutions should prepare students to become competent, accurate, safepractitioners and leaders. Dietetics professional practice stage could helpstudents to develop these skills. To develop and demonstrate leadership skillsduring stage, dietetics students should follow the legislation, regulations andethics, for example, the Principles of Professional Practice by Dietitians ofCanda, and OPDQ Dietitian’s Code of Ethics.
Students should adapt to interdisciplinaryworking environment, and learn how to communicate and to collaborate effectivelywith other health professionals.Dieteticstudents believed that demonstrating leadership skills could help to advocateand gain more recognition for the profession, could help in their own professionalgrowth and recognition, could impact people in a positive manner (KRM, 2013). Inthe past, improved nutrition training of other professionals posed a threat tothe authority of clinical dietitian because of problems of job expectations,education, training and self-image among dietitians (Nestle, 1984).
Therefore,it is crucial for dietetic interns and dietitians to demonstrate professionalismand leadership to help to improve the status and visibility of dietitians’roles in health care system (Nestle, 1984).In short,leadership is essential in dietetic practice, and everyone from students toexperienced practitioners should develop and demonstrate good leadership skillsin order to provide client’s care efficiently.