Registered Dietitians in School Nutrition Leadership: Motivational Aspects of Job Selection and Job Satisfaction

Arendt, Susan
Dodson, Linnette
Arendt, Susan
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

Purpose/Objectives This study examined motivational aspects related to selecting school nutrition leadership as a career by registered dietitians (RDs). Motivational aspects were defined as valued characteristics which influence individuals’ desires for specific work environments. Aspects of job satisfaction were also explored. Methods An online questionnaire was distributed to all active members (n = 219) of the School Nutrition Services Dietetics Practice Group (SNSDPG) in the Southeast Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) US Department of Agriculture (USDA) region as well as state agency directors (n = 8). Questionnaires collected information on motivational aspects influencing RD selection of school nutrition as a career and satisfaction with their leadership positions. Results Motivational aspects influencing job selection in school nutrition included attributes such as responsibilities, program requirements, stability, and security. RD job selection was influenced by working for a positive outcome with others (M = 4.53, SD = 0.64) and impacting childhood obesity prevention (M = 4.49, SD = 0.65). RD job selection was also influenced by aspects of coworker relationships and be valued by coworkers, as well as having promotion opportunities. Job satisfaction was associated with utilizing skills with employee training (M = 4.56, SD = 0.53), enjoy working in school nutrition leadership (M = 4.44, SD = 0.69), impacting the health of school-age children (M = 4.38, SD = 0.58), and working independently (M =4.20, SD = 0.88). Application to Child Nutrition Professionals This research provides insight into aspects influencing RDs to consider school nutrition leadership and those job responsibilities that RDs find satisfying. Understanding these aspects may benefit foodservice management and dietetic educators by developing future school nutrition program leadership and marketing this leadership option to RDs. Providing an understanding of what aspects RDs find satisfying in school nutrition leadership may allow for successful recruitment in filling the retirement void.


This article is published as 2014 *Dodson, L., and Arendt, S. Registered Dietitians in school nutrition leadership: Motivational aspects of job selection and job satisfaction. Journal of Child Nutrition & Management 38(2). Posted with permission