Sunday, February 17, 2013

RDs Unite at Legislative Day

On February 13, 2013 I attended my first Legislative Day in Downtown Annapolis. For those of you that don’t know, Legislative Day is an annual event hosted by the Maryland Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (MAND). For 2 CEUs, you can learn how to effectively communicate with legislators, about current bills impacting your profession, and become an advocate for dietetics in the state of Maryland. Unfortunately, as an intern I’m not able to receive the CEUs just yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect and was a bit nervous, as I’m not exactly “politically savvy.” However, you don’t need a background in politics to participate in the day’s events. In fact, the day began with speeches from Senator John Astle, and MAND’s lobbyist, Dan Doherty. They provided tips and suggestions for effectively communicating with legislators and gave an overview of the regulatory process from an insider’s point of view.

After learning how to communicate with legislators, it was time to learn about our “talking points,” or the bills impacting nutrition professionals. This was my favorite part of the day, as it highlighted the specific issues relevant to our profession and prepared us for the next part of the day—meeting with legislators.

Finally, it was time to put what we’d learned into practice. So we formed our designated groups and marched to the Senate House for our first appointment. Unfortunately, the senator was unavailable, but we were able to express our concerns to a member of their staff. The rest of the appointments continued without a hitch, and overall I feel that the legislator’s and their staff were very receptive to our concerns. I found this experience to be very empowering and I hope to attend next year’s Legislative Day. To conclude, I’ll leave you with some information regarding two bills I feel strongly about. 

1. Senate Bill 738 State Board of Physicians – Naturopathic Doctors
MAND Position
My Opinion
Adds Naturopathic Doctors the State Board of Physicians, & allows them to provide services, such as MNT.
Want “nutrition,” & “dietetics” removed from bill. Otherwise no position.
I agree with MAND, in that “dietetics,” directly conflicts with Registered Dietitians (copyrighted term).

 2. House Bill 1121 Health Occupations Dental Hygienists-Community Health & Wellness Acts
MAND Position
My Opinion
Allows dental hygienists to provide services including nutrition counseling at Community Health Centers.
Would support, only requests “nutrition counseling” be removed from the bill. But supports them providing oral health education.
I agree with MAND, but feel that the entire line “diet & nutritional counseling,” be removed. Also, I do not understand why they need to take weights, heights, & bp. 

What do you think of these bills? 

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