Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN)


Nutrition & Dietetics

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Y. Arikawa

Second Advisor

Dr. Lauri Wright

Third Advisor

Dr. Jamisha Leftwich

Department Chair

Dr, Andrea Y. Arikawa

College Dean

Dr. Mei Zhao


Background - Dietitians are represented by fewer than 3% African Americans and 6% Hispanics compared with population demographics of 13% and 19% respectively. Despite 50 years of research on pipeline education, mentorship programs, cultural competency, and funding opportunities, minority participation in dietetics remains disproportionately low. At a time of increasing health care disparity, it is more important than ever to recruit and retain minorities in dietetics to optimally serve an ever increasingly diverse population.

Methods - 18 Historically Black Colleges and 26 high Hispanic census schools nationwide were contacted by email and follow-up phone call to explore and address ethnic barriers through dissemination of a pilot-study video production. Survey results were stored in Qualtrics and select questions analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square analysis.

Results – Barriers revealed include 51.7% of respondents were concerned about the cost and time commitment of RD graduate school. Another 59.78% of participants learned about RD graduate requirements very late in their college careers. After viewing the motivational video, 64% of respondents reported they were more likely to consider becoming an RD, and 89.7% replied the video helped improve their appreciation for the role of RD’s. Chi-Squared analysis of increased interest in attending dietetics graduate after viewing the video was c2 (1) = 2.698, r = .10.

Conclusion – Building a personal link with “People like me” and a connection with helping others through dietetics may be necessary to overcome minority barriers to entry into dietetics. Post-video responses indicate that providing program information early and building connection may the missing pieces needed to increase minority participation in dietetics.

Available for download on Sunday, April 26, 2026