MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, CPT
Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, Masters of Science in Nutrition and Wellness from Andrews University and Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition, Specialization Dietetics and Minor In Health Science Education at the University of Florida. I completed my 43-week dietetic residency at Orlando Florida Hospital and have been working in the field of Dietetics for over a decade. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Board Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer -Women Specialist, Adult Weight Management Certificate.
Throughout my entire life and especially in my career I have faced racism. In my career, I have had patients second guess my recommendations because of the color of my skin and when the same recommendation is given by a white counterpart it is received differently – positively. I’ve had patients in the hospital not believe I am the dietitian and question what I do or request to speak with someone else for no particular reason. On some occasions I had to prove my worth more than the average dietitian in order to received comparable pay rate of my colleagues in the field.
In the United States, studies show that women receive lower rate of pay compared to men. However, if you are a black female, that gap is even larger. Racism is systemic -wide spread in every field and every facet of life. I am usually the only black dietitian amongst my other colleagues which is no surprise since the dietetic field is comprised of about 2% blacks. Cultural competency should be a required class that should be taught in the dietetic curriculum. In school, I remember receiving a few weeks or so of cultural education and how important it is incorporate a clients cultural food preferences in eating plans but we need an entire semester on this; a few weeks is not enough.
Share the work of black dietitians and other cultures in books, articles, social media, etc so that our diverse communities can see because representation matters. Also, host events and give dietitians of color the opportunity to be included as key note speakers and leaders in their field of specialty. Expose young minds early starting in middle school through college about the field of dietetics – many people are unswear of what dietitians do and who we are overall. Exposure is key to having more people of color in this field. Open up more internship spots, not just in the United States but globally and offer scholarships to those who cannot afford it. Dietetic internships are not paid and many people cannot afford to enter into a commitment that is about a yearlong with no pay.