The Career Experiences of Female Registered Dietitians in NCAA Division I Athletic Departments
Keywords:registered dietician, NCAA, career experiences, holistic care
The National Collegiate Athletic Association passed legislation in 2014 to allow for unlimited meals and snacks for college athletes. This policy change created a need for full-time registered dietitians (RDs) to ensure student-athletes are properly fueled and monitor their dietary habits. RDs are now considered to be a key member of the college athlete holistic care team, and this has created a unique professional niche for RDs. There is a lack of research exploring the experiences and challenges of this emerging profession in college athletic departments. Nine RDs working in NCAA Division I athletic departments participated in semi-structured interviews to examine their career experiences. Three themes were constructed from the data analysis: (a) professional transition; (b) nutritional education; and (c) (dis)respect. The respondents discussed their participation in sport or volunteer experience was what pushed them to pursue a career as a sports dietician. One of the primary functions of their position is to build trust with the student-athletes and provide them with nutritional education so they will develop healthy eating habits. The respondents also struggled with a lack of acceptance of the importance of their position on the interprofessional care team. Some had positive experiences with administrators, but most had negative experiences and a general lack of understanding of the professional expertise they had.
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