The Swiss Association of Registered Dietitians was founded on the 21st of April 1942. On that day, in the middle of the Second World War, around 20 dietitians met at Kongresshaus Zurich to establish what was initially called “Berufsverband des Diätpersonals Schweiz”. The purpose and motivation behind this association was “to maintain contact with professionals, to promote the exchange of experience and to take a position as a useful body serving the sick”. These objectives, along with others, are still pursued today.
Over the course of time, the requirements imposed on dietitians have changed considerably. We have taken this into account by also changing accordingly! Since 2005, basic education in our field has taken place solely on the level of universities of applied sciences – because today, a scientifically sound, practice-oriented way of working is essential. The curricula of degree programmes in nutrition and dietetics make full allowance for this.
Furthermore, one consequence of the education level being classified as that of universities of applied sciences has been that we, like other healthcare professions on the same educational level, have a legal basis in the Healthcare Occupations Act, which was passed by parliament last year. This law reinforces our status as legally recognised, authoritatively distinguishing us from all the self-proclaimed nutrition specialists who do not have sound expert knowledge.
The SVDE wanted to make it possible to see who the legally recognised Dietitians are. This is why the label “Ernährungsberater/in SVDE” (SVDE dietitian) was created, which is protected under private law. This label may only be used by active or retired members of the SVDE. The label guarantees that its bearer has either a degree from a university of applied sciences or a qualification obtained according to previous regulations at “PET college” level, is legally recognised as per Article 50a of the Ordinance on Health Insurance (HIO/KVV), conducts their professional activity in a scientifically sound manner in accordance with the basic principles of professional ethics, maintains the skills required for this professional activity by means of regular further training, and has pledged to adhere to the association’s rules of professional conduct and the code of ethics.
SVDE Dietitians have the right skills with which to exert a positive influence regarding future social and health policy-related challenges. SVDE dietitians are already getting involved in new future-oriented healthcare models today with a focus on interprofessional cooperation, whereby the handling of digital communication tools is a matter of course: for us, e-health is by no means an alien concept.
This professional association has enjoyed steady growth since 1942: when there were 20 members at the founding assembly, this figure had already grown to over 600 members by the time of the 50th anniversary in 1992, whereas now, 75 years after the founding, there are already more than 1100 members!
Despite this pleasing development, our professional association is one of the smaller ones in Switzerland. Nevertheless, we have to face the same challenges as all other healthcare professional associations, which means that we must plan our human resources, i.e. time, and financial resources, very carefully in order to achieve our goals.
President of Swiss Association of Registered Dietitians