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Essential Practice Competencies Information

What are the Essential Practice Competencies?
The Commission on Dietetic Registration has developed the Essential Practice Competencies for CDR Credentialed Nutrition and Dietetics Practitioners  to provide overarching validated standards for two credentials: the Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), and the Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) or Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered (NDTR). Practice competencies define the knowledge, skill, judgment and attitude requirements throughout a practitioner’s career, across practice, and within focus areas. Competencies provide a structured guide to help identify, evaluate, and develop the behaviors required for continuing competence.  

Unlike entry-level competencies, which focus on preparation and evaluation for minimum competence upon completion of an ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics) education program, the essential practice competencies are intended for use throughout a nutrition and dietetics practitioner’s career.
Purpose and Application of the Competencies
There is an expectation that competencies will be used by the dietetics profession to:
  • Identify learning needs;
  • Guide continuing professional development and ongoing competence;
  • Assist in career progression and professional development; and to
  • Communicate the role and competence of the profession to stakeholders (i.e. employers, external accreditation bodies, the public, etc.).
Learning Plans are created through use of CDR’s Competency Plan Builder, a digital tool that assists Practitioners in creating a continuing professional education Learning Plan. It helps identify focus areas during each five-year recertification cycle for verified CDR credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners.
What Do the Competencies Look Like?
The functional framework the competencies comprises four hierarchy levels:

Essential Practice Competencies
There are 14 spheres, 65 practice competencies for RDs (64 for DTRs), and 418 performance indicators for RDs (374 performance indicators for DTRs). These essential practice competencies are:
  • Broad enough to encompass the range of activities within the profession (e.g., clinical care, management, food services, research, education, etc.), and to recognize that RDs and DTRs assume many unique roles (e.g., marketing for a food manufacturer, informatics for a health system, etc.).
  • Descriptive of the different practice roles between the RD and DTR credentials.
  • Applicable to all credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners
Core Essential Practice Competencies
The core essential practice competencies describe the knowledge, skills, judgment and attitudes that apply to all credentialed practitioners regardless of role, area of practice, or setting.

Sphere 1: Ethics 
Sphere 2: Communications
Sphere 3: Leadership and Advocacy
Sphere 4: Critical Thinking and Decision Making
Sphere 5: Informatics
Sphere 6: Research and Scholarship 
Sphere 7: Quality Management
Sphere 8: Food, Nutrition and Dietetics 
Sphere 9: Education and Counseling
Functional Essential Practice Competencies
The functional essential practice competencies describe the role-specific knowledge, skills, judgment and attitudes needed for a particular practice focus.

Sphere 10: Clinical Care
Sphere 11: Business, Industry and Product Development and Marketing
Sphere 12: Community, Population and Global Health
Sphere 13: Foodservice Systems Management
Sphere 14: Organization Management

How Were These Competencies Developed?
A more complete summary of the development process for the essential practice competencies can be found in the introduction to the Essential Practice Competencies for CDR Credentialed Nutrition and Dietetics Practitioners.
Please email 

*Please note the RDN and RD are two credential designation options for one certification program. Practitioners may choose to use one or the other. For more information, click here
**Please note the NDTR and DTR are two credential designation options for one certification program. Practitioners may choose to use one or the other. For more information, click here.
Updated: 10/2021