Nutrition and dietetics program celebrates Michigan's new licensure law

Contact: Chris Hybels
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's nutrition and dietetics program is celebrating the passing of new law (House Bill 4608) which requires individuals to become licensed before practicing medical nutrition therapy in the State of Michigan. This new licensure will legally recognize dietitians as medical professionals and protect the safety of Michiganders. 

Jenny Converse performs a blood pressure test on her mentor, Kelly McHugh, during a clinical skills course.

"We've been advocating for licensure so much because insurance companies don't cover services unless you're a licensed health care professional," says Kelly McHugh, a student in the nutrition and dietetics master's program. "Now with the licensure, we can get more coverage through insurance which brings more access to care for people. Because if you have to pay out of pocket to see a dietitian, it's going to be expensive. But if you have the opportunity to get it covered because we're now licensed health care workers, that is great."

Sarah Koch, prepares to take a blood sample during a clinical skills course.

Beyond expanding access, the licensure will prevent individuals from practicing medical nutrition therapy without a master's degree and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. 

"There can still be health coaches who have patients, but they can't give any medical nutrition therapy, so they can't adjust diets for diabetics or recommend renal diets. Because if you haven't gone through a whole internship and accredited program through an accredited body, you're not as knowledgeable about the topic," says McHugh. 

According to McHugh, the passing of the law couldn't come at a better time for increasing the number of dietitians.

"The field is growing right now and we need 4,000 dietitians every year to keep up with it," says McHugh. "Becoming a RDN is more education and takes a longer time in school, but the licensure recognizes our work, allows our services to be covered by insurance and hopefully increase wages that match the education that we're required to have."


Dietitians are nutrition experts who apply the science of food and nutrition to settings in medicine, community health, wellness and food service operations. The WMU programs in nutrition and dietetics prepare students who desire to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or nutrition and dietitian technician registered (DTR). Both WMU programs are recognized by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). To learn more about the internship and undergraduate programs, visit the nutrition and dietetics website.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.