NSDA Update Fall 2018

President's Message

As I began my term as President of NSDA's board of directors, I was trying to determine the content of this and future messages. I concluded that this is a perfect opportunity to describe the functions of the Board.  I believe it is important for the roles and responsibilities of the Board to be understood. I am hoping that this is of interest to you. 

First and foremost, the overall function of the Board is governance and oversight. To understand this function, it is important to understand governance responsibilities. Key governance responsibilities of the Board as defined by our Board Charter include:

Accountability and Strategic Planning
-Establish and evaluate NSDA’s strategic plan
-Report on progress of the plan to stakeholders
-Set the mission, vision and values of the organization
-Ensure decisions are consistent with the mission, vision and values
-Ensure the organization functions as it should

Risk Oversight and Quality Assurance
-Public Safety
-Management Information Systems and Internal Controls
-Financial Oversight
-Board Effectiveness and Efficiency
-Establishing goals and evaluate the performance of the Board, its Chair and Committees
-Determine the range of skills and experience to be represented on the Board
-Develop a process to recruit high quality, diverse and competent leadership for the Board
-Ensure that Board members have a thorough initial orientation and ongoing opportunities to improve their knowledge, skills and competency as a Board member
-Review bylaws, governance policies and Board practices to ensure best governance practices are being incorporated

Stakeholder Relations
-Protect and enhance the NSDA brand and reputation
-Maintain strong and effective relations with all stakeholders
-Represent the organization externally to stakeholders

Over the past year we have shared the development of our current strategic plan, seeking and incorporating input from stakeholders in its development. I am going to move on from there to share how the Board is making decisions consistent with the strategic plan and in accordance with our Charter. The mission of NSDA is - In the public interest, NSDA regulates dietitians and nutritionists to practice in a safe, ethical and competent manner. Thus, working within the guidance of the mission and the Charter, one function of the Board is to ensure that dietitians and nutritionists in Nova Scotia, are regulated, in the interest of public protection. While this may sound a simple enough task, it requires a depth of knowledge, competencies and commitment to good governance and oversight, that is not always easily understood or realized. As such, education sessions are provided to board members to help strengthen their roles on the Board.

Annually, in September, a professional development session is held for all Board members. This session provides new members with a good general beginning of understanding governance and oversight, as well as strengthening the knowledge and abilities of the other members. This annual training assists the Board to assure that its governing processes reflect best practices in board governance and reinforces the board's oversight role. It also helps the board to identify areas for further development and improvement.

This September, our annual professional development session was held with a governance consultant, providing knowledge on the different modes of governance, the foundations for effective governance, the respective roles and responsibilities of governance versus management, as well as session on Board succession planning. This focus was in line with the Board's strategic direction, Governance Excellence: To develop a strategy to recruit and maintain leaders who enhance and contribute to NSDA's mission, vision, values and strategic directions.

The results of the Board’s self-assessment, conducted this year, clearly identified and confirmed the Board’s priority for establishing a succession plan and recruitment strategy for members of the Board. Based on the learnings from the September education session, the Strategic Plan and the Board Charter, the work of the Board this fiscal year will be to establish a recruitment and nominations strategy, that can allow for the right mix of education, knowledge, and experience to provide direction and stewardship for NSDA. It is anticipated that this new process will be in place for recruitment and nominations for next year.  Stay tuned for the next dialogue on the functions of NSDA! (I’m sure you can hardly wait…. smile).

In closing, I want to recognize some amazing people: A sincere thank you to Melissa Campbell outgoing President, for all her hard work and dedication in setting the course for the Board over the next few years. All this and becoming a new Mom too! Thank you to returning Board members: Sarah MacDonald (President-Elect), Janice Terry (Treasurer), Megan Austen, Amy MacDonald, Valerie MacPherson, and a wholehearted welcome to our new Board members, Jennifer Josey and Laura Bokus-Thorne. And lastly, a sincere goodbye and thank you to Kelly Poirier for her work on the NSDA Board of Directors. We wish you all the best life has to offer!

Until next time,
Judy Lowe, PDt
NSDA President 2018-2020


2018-19 Board of Directors (from left to right): Megan Austen, Melissa Campbell, Janice Terry,
Judy Lowe, Sarah MacDonald, Jennifer Garus, Laura Bockus-Thorne, Jennifer Josey, Amy MacDonald.
Missing: Valerie MacPherson.

Executive Manager's Message

Work is well underway towards meeting NSDA’s strategic goals. Strategic goals were established by the board of directors in September 2017. The board of directors oversees the strategic plan related to the goals and staff/volunteers carry out the plan.

Strategic Goal: Enhance collective understanding of regulation and the role of NSDA
A public education strategy will inform the public about the regulation of dietetic practice, including information of the profession’s protected titles, credentials, scope of practice, and accountability. An objective is to enable the public to make an informed choice when seeking nutrition advice. A Communications Committee was established to advise on a communication strategy. Committee members include Monica Rodriguez (chair), Cathy Chenhall, Jane Pryor, Bonnie Conrad, Courtney Ceponis, and Jennifer Garus. The Committee reviewed other colleges’ and associations’ public education strategies to inform the development of NSDA’s strategy. Over the summer, the Communications Committee developed key messages related to the strategic goal and put out a request for proposals for a marketing firm to implement the strategy. The marketing firm will use the key messages to revise NSDA’s website content for a public audience, develop digital media (e.g. infographics) and set up social media.

Another component of the strategic goal is to enhance dietitians’ understanding of professional regulation. We continue to await the proclamation of the Dietitians Act. The Dietitians Act was approved by the legislature in 2009. The Act will come into force (aka proclamation) after Cabinet approves the regulations that accompany the Act. The regulations are currently being reviewed by the Department of Health and Department of Justice. In the fall and spring, I will meet with dietitians around the province to provide an overview of what will change when NSDA transitions to the Nova Scotia College of Dietitians and Nutritionists.  

Strategic Goal: Review the Continuing Competency Program and explore its relevance and utility
Successful completion of a continuing competency program (CCP) provides a regulatory body reasonable assurance that health professionals meet their career-long professional obligation to engage in professional development activities. A CCP also provides reasonable assurance that health professionals are current and competent to practice. The review of the CCP will assess whether and how the current CCP meets these objectives.

A comprehensive evaluation of the current program has been planned and is underway. The evaluation will:
1. Identify strengths and limitations associated with the current Program in meeting the desired outcomes.
2. Identify how the CCP can be simplified and become more user-friendly, yet effective in meeting its desired outcomes.
3. Identify how the CCP can be enhanced to meet the desired outcomes.
4. Identify whether current supports are effective in meeting registrants’ challenges successfully completing the Program.

The workplan includes:
1. Scrutinizing audit findings to identify trends, problem areas, and potential enhancements/changes to the Program and supports.
2. Exploring other regulatory bodies’ programs and identifying trends.
3. Conducting a literature review.
4. Comparing the current CCP with results of the environmental scan and identifying the pros and cons associated with the differences and similarities.
5. Identifying dietitians’ barriers, concerns and preferences with the current Program.
6. Identifying dietitians’ concerns and preferences with potential modifications.
7. Identifying whether dietitians’ submissions improve.

In November 2020, the board of directors will review and consolidate the Continuing Competency Committee’s recommendations for changes to the CCP. This plan is subject to change based on findings, resources, and other priorities that may arise.

We use a variety of communication vehicles to communicate with you, but communications are only effective when they are read/heard. We rely on email to communicate and invite your participation in the work being done to meet NSDA’s strategic goals.  Feedback is welcome!  To comment on the strategic plan, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JGarus newsletter

Jennifer Garus, MScAHN, PDt.
Executive Manager

College Update

This fall, presentations will be held across the province to provide an update on what it means when NSDA transitions to a College. The timeline for proclamation of the new Act remains unknown.

The agenda will include an overview of:

  • what will change when NSDA transitions to a College
  • the draft Standards of Practice for Nutrition Prescription
  • progress report on NSDA's strategic plan

The session is relevant to all dietitians. Dietetic interns are welcome.

Click HERE to view a listing of dates and locations, and to register.

strategic plan

New Continuing Competency Program Auditing Process

The new Continuing Competency Program (CCP) auditing process was carried out in 2018.  It is outlined in Policy 5.2.  The rubric used to evaluate submissions can be found HERE.

Fifteen percent of CCP submissions are audited annually through random selection and based on screening for satisfactory completion. Auditors are dietitians who volunteer to audit.  For consistency and correctness, all auditors are trained on how to complete the audit. Every effort is made to keep submissions confidential and anonymous to auditors.

An unsatisfactory submission is incomplete or has an audit score below 50%. Two trained auditors review each submission that is found to be unsatisfactory to prevent discrepancies/inconsistencies in the auditing process. If the submission remains unsatisfactory based on the scores from two independent auditors, the Continuing Competency Committee will review the submission and give the Practice Advisor further direction.

 Unacceptable CCP Submissions

If your submission is unsatisfactory, your subsequent submission will also be audited. A personalized letter is sent by registered mail indicating problem areas, specific suggestions for improvement, and follow up action. Upon notification of audit results, support is offered to facilitate understanding of the expectations of the CCP. Dietitians are strongly encouraged to meet with the Practice Advisor, Amanda Connors. A license will not be renewed if the subsequent submission is unsatisfactory.

When dietitians apply to other colleges, NSDA completes a Labour Mobility Verification Form to inform the other college that the dietitian is registered in good standing.  If your last CCP submission was unsatisfactory, this will be communicated to the other college.

New CCP Resource

Critical Reflection and Continuing Competency - presented by Bonnie Conrad at NSDA's May 2018 Education Day 

Volunteering to audit is a valuable way to increase your understanding of the CCP. Audits are completed every spring. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to volunteer. 


Jurisprudence e-Learning Module 

Did you register as a new registrant with NSDA between December 2017 and November 2018?  

Did you pass the November 2017 or May 2018 sitting of the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE)?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you are due to complete the Jurisprudence e-Learning Module by March 31, 2019.  Check your email inbox for or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for instructions. Temporary members who pass the November 2018 sitting of the CDRE are due to complete the Module by March 31, 2020.

The Jurisprudence Handbook is now posted on the NSDA website -- it is a duplication of the content found within the Jurisprudence e-Learning Module.  

The Jurisprudence e-Learning Module is a mandatory component of the Continuing Competency Program. The Module supports dietitians to maintain a current understanding of the regulatory, provincial and federal requirements related to dietetic practice in Canada. The Module provides dietitians with information related to legislation, standards and guidelines that govern dietitians’ conduct, in particular the Professional Dietitians Act, provincial legislation, standards of practice, code of ethics related to dietetic practice in Nova Scotia. It is an open-book series of quizzes. The sources for answers to the Module’s quiz questions are found within the Module or referenced within the Module. See Policy 5.3 for more information.

Registration and Renewal Fee Increase

The fee for renewal and registration for the next fiscal year (starting April 1, 2019) will be $400.  The fee will be $200 for temporary members and pro-rated based on the month that they apply.  At the May 2018 Annual General Meeting, the fee increase was approved by the majority of dietitians present and those present by proxy.

In May 2018, the board of directors reviewed Policy 4.6 as it pertains to pro-rating fees.  An environmental scan was done of other colleges' policies. No change was made to the policy. The registration fee will be $200 for those who apply to NSDA between September 30 and March 31.  Dietitians who resign before September 30 are entitled to a $200 reimbursement.

 NEW: Virtual Practice Policy

Virtual dietetic practice is defined as the provision of dietetic services (e.g. counseling, consultation, monitoring, teaching, etc.) which involves any type of intervention with a client who is remotely located from the dietitian providing the service.  It can include telephone, videoconferencing, email, apps, web-based communication and wearable technology.  Virtual dietetic practice can occur within a jurisdiction and also across borders within Canada.   The Virtual Practice Policy is posted on the NSDA website under Dietitians/Publications.

New Assessment Process for Internationally Educated Dietitians

A new assessment process is being used to determine whether internationally educated dietitians (IEDs) have the knowledge, skills and abilities substantially equivalent to expectations of Canadian graduates. NSDA has adopted the College of Dietitians of Ontario’s prior learning assessment for IEDs applying to NSDA.  

The assessment assesses the IED’s knowledge, skills and abilities acquired from their education and work experience.  The assessment is divided into two components:  the Knowledge and Competency Assessment Tool (KCAT) and Practice-based Assessment (PBA).  There is also a self-assessment, called the Orientation and Self-assessment Tool (OSAT), that provides a comprehensive overview of dietetics in Canada.  The KCAT assesses whether an IED has the foundational knowledge substantially equivalent to entry-to-practice education standards.  Depending on the IED’s score, they may progress to complete the PBA, apply to a bridging program or explore other educational or career options.  The PBA is a written and oral exam that determines whether the IED is practice-ready.  Upon the pass of the PBA, the IED is eligible for a temporary membership and take the next sitting of the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE). 

The KCAT and PBA are offered in Toronto, but NSDA has also made the assessments available to IEDs in Nova Scotia.  In May 2018, the KCAT was offered in Nova Scotia.  The PBA will be offered in November 2018.  More information about the Pathway to Licensure for IEDs is on the NSDA website.  



If I have concerns about a dietitian’s practice, can I make an anonymous complaint?

Complaints cannot be anonymous and must be signed by the complainant. Please be aware that by communicating concerns to the NSDA staff or board members, they may have an ethical obligation to proceed with addressing the concern. In that scenario, you may be called upon to be a witness in a complaints process.  It is important to be aware of your ethical obligation to report incidents of potential incompetence, misconduct or incapacity.

As I am not currently practicing as a dietitian, should I maintain my license with NSDA?

At this time, you are advised to maintain your license with NSDA if there is a possibility that you will return to dietetic practice at some point. When NSDA becomes a college, there will be a non-practicing roster.  Before resigning, contact NSDA to understand implications specific to your situation.

I am moving out of Canada to practice as a dietitian, but I may return to Nova Scotia to practice at a later date.  Should I maintain my license in Nova Scotia?

You are advised to maintain your license with NSDA if you have never written and passed the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE).  Based on Policy 4.10, you would be required to pass the CDRE for reinstatement unless you are registered in good standing with another Canadian dietetic regulatory body at the time of application.

If you passed the CDRE more than three years before the date of application, you will need to satisfy the Registration Committee that you have been registered as a dietitian in good standing in the other jurisdiction, have practiced a minimum of 600 hours in three years before the date of your application and have met a regulatory body’s continuing competency requirements.  Otherwise, the Registration Committee may deem upgrading required for reinstatement.

How do I change my email address in the NSDA renewal system?

You can access the online database throughout the year.  Please keep your email address, mailing address and employment information up to date by logging onto the membership database and updating your profile details.  

If you have a change in email address or wish to change your password, log on and click on your name at the top right corner of the screen.  Then click Account.

 Where do I find my renewal receipt and license verification?

To access your renewal receipt, log onto the membership database and click on My Applications (found on the left side of the screen under Applications). Hard copies of license cards are no longer mailed out.  To access your license verification online, log-on and click on Download My License (found on the left side of the screen under My License).  

 NSDA is on Facebook

There is an NSDA Facebook group to enhance communication with Nova Scotia dietitians about regulatory related issues. Employment and continuing education opportunities are also posted.  

With any social media site, there are risks because information is not private. Inappropriate or misinterpreted posts can harm the reputation and integrity of individual professionals or the profession. Posts will be monitored. If you have concerns, please contact NSDA directly. It is not intended to replace the networking forums that already exist through Dietitians of Canada or the Dietitians Network of Nova Scotia.  Join the NSDA Facebook group HERE!