LAU’s Nutrition and Dietetics Program Receives Full ACEND Accreditation

The Natural Sciences Department celebrates a significant achievement as a result of its program’s academic quality and adherence to international standards.

By Luther J. Kanso

In a significant milestone, the BS in Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Program at the School of Arts and Sciences (SoAS) has become the second program outside the US to receive full accreditation as an International Coordinated Program in Dietetics from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

The accreditation enables program graduates to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam and become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN), qualified to practice in the US.

“This milestone boosts the program’s global standing and enables collaborative exchange programs with US institutions,” said SoAS Interim Dean Haidar Harmanani. “We are very thrilled and grateful for this recognition. It is a testament to the dedication of our nutrition team and the steadfast support from the leadership within the university.”

Four years of rigorous self-assessment and development since its ACEND candidacy, and in time for LAU’s Centennial, the program’s success underscores LAU’s adherence to foundational requirements and commitment to educational improvement.

In 2020, the program was one of the Noteworthy Practice Honorees among the ACEND-accredited programs for its Interprofessional Education (IPE), which was highlighted on ACEND’s website.

According to Instructor and ACEND Nutrition Program Coordinator Joelle Abi Kharma, the department demonstrated compliance with ACEND’s requirements by enhancing the program’s objectives and the theoretical and practical aspects of its curriculum design; ensuring the qualifications of its faculty and preceptors; and aligning the availability and caliber of facilities and resources to meet the program’s needs.

Given the comprehensive CP curriculum, coupled with LAU’s state-of-the-art resources and technology, this alignment guarantees that graduates acquire the knowledge and professional skills needed to excel in leadership roles in clinical, food service and community nutrition and meet the challenges they will face as professionals.

The program demonstrated its proactive approach to remain at the forefront of advancements in nutrition and dietetics by maintaining a qualified teaching staff and preceptors.

“The faculty and preceptors must possess appropriate experience and ongoing professional development in their areas of expertise,” to deliver high-quality education and support to their students, noted Abi Kharma.

Another crucial component of the accreditation process was the systematic assessment of student learning outcomes which involves regular evaluation of student performance and feedback mechanisms that help identify areas for progress.

This is achieved through the program’s improvement plan, which entails “regular curriculum reviews and ongoing efforts to advance its quality and student assessment data,” added Abi Kharma, warranting that it not only meets modern academic standards but also stays up-to-date with new trends.

The prestigious recognition, said Provost George E. Nasr, “sets the BS in Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Program apart, showcasing its exceptional quality and commitment to producing top-notch dietitians. It enhances our university’s reputation and cements our leadership in nutrition education.”