Valuing Diversity in Dietetics: Considerations for Service Dogs at School, Internships, and the Workplace

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Diversity has become an increasingly important topic within the field of dietetics to create a profession representative of the population it serves, capable of providing culturally appropriate patient care. Yet people with disabilities (PwDs) are often overlooked. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.”1 In the United States, approximately 12.6% of the noninstitutionalized population lives with a disability.2 One strategy employed by PwDs to mitigate their disabilities is the use of a highly trained service dog (SD). PwDs in general and individuals assisted by SDs specifically face significant challenges entering the health care field and accessing medical care. However, data are lacking on disability prevalence among dietetics students, interns, and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs).3 PwDs often exhibit many valuable proficiencies, including creativity, flexibility, and peak performance under pressure,4 yet also experience unique challenges. For the field of dietetics to become a diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession, it is important for food and nutrition practitioners to understand both the unique challenges and valuable contributions of students, interns, employees, and patients with disabilities assisted by an SD (herein referred to as SD handlers). The purpose of this article is to share best practices for accommodating SD handlers involved in all areas of the field of dietetics.



Published Citation

Sykora D, Dinour LM. Valuing Diversity in Dietetics: Considerations for Service Dogs at School, Internships, and the Workplace. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2022 Sep;122(9):1595-1599. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2022.05.020. Epub 2022 May 28. PMID: 35636742.