Certified Dietary Manager: A Career Overview2017-03-17T09:23:25+00:00

Certified Dietary Manager: A Career Overview

A Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) is a type of healthcare professional that works within a Nursing Home, Long Term Care (LTC) or Assisted Living Facility (ALF). They typically manage a wide variety of tasks for the food service department of such noncommercial establishments. The career path and educational requirements of a CDM are established by the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals (ANFP). In addition to meeting specific educational requirements, a CDM must pass the certified dietary manager credentialing examination. Depending upon the requirements of the healthcare facility, the CDM may work in cooperation with or under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian (RD).

Certified Dietary Manager Job Description

A CDM provides accurate nutritional guidance and advice for individuals living within these types of care facilities. The dietary manager oversees the institution’s foodservice department, a position that typically encompasses a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, and which mandates a considerable degree of flexibility. The CDM’s primary objective is to safely and efficiently provide nutritionally appropriate food to an institution’s residents for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing their overall health. It is important that the CDM meet this objective with meals that are palatable, visually attractive, and economically feasible. To this end, the dietary manager oversees all aspects relating to the regular preparation of what are typically large quantities of food, including procurement, menu planning, staff management, food storage and inventory, clean-up, and more. The CDM also trains and supervises the food service staff, and coordinates with various other institutional departments as needed.

Educational Requirements for CDM Jobs

Most long term care facilities that hire foodservice managers not only require applicants to have graduated high school (or obtained a GED certificate) but also, to have completed additional training and achieved CDM certification. There are a number of paths one may take to become a CDM. One avenue would be to take dietary management training via the military. Another is to complete a college or university’s bachelor’s degree program. Many of these programs offer a degree or certification upon successful completion of the program. Associate degree programs are also available in dietary management, culinary skills, nutrition and dietetics, among others, all of which are viable pathways to becoming a dietary manager. Individuals with a minimum of two years of experience in foodservice management and who have completed a foodservice course of 90 or more hours are eligible to take the certification examination.

The most sought-after credential for a foodservice manager to pursue is that of Certified Dietary Manger (CDM). The examination for this title is offered by the ANFP, and consists of 200 standardized questions (all multiple choice) on such topics as nutrition, business operations, equipment maintenance, food safety, sanitation, and more. Those who successfully pass the exam must pay an annual fee to keep their certification current and summit proof of having engaged in a minimum of 45 hours of continuing education every three years.

Current and Future Job and Salary Outlook

According to statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment opportunities for dietary and foodservice managers are expected to keep pace with current growth for the time period stretching from 2014 to 2022, increasing at a rate of approximately 5% per year through the year 2022. A CDM’s salary is typically commensurate with the individual’s experience, certifications, and completed degree programs. As of 2015, the national range of salaries for a CDM ranged between $28,780 and $83,010 with a median wage earned of $48,490. It is projected that by the year 2024, there will be 320,700 foodservice managers employed within the United States. At the projected growth rate of 5%, 15,700 additional foodservice manager jobs per year are expected to be added to the 305,000 present in 2014. Candidates that work positions with staffing firms like 360 Healthcare Staffing receive perquisites and living expenses that result in above-average compensation.

Because the largest portion of the population is moving into retirement, it is expected that a significant number of CDM positions over the next two decades will be within institutions that cater to this demographic, such as assisted living communities, retirement care centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and others along this line. Because senior citizens often have a number of different health problems, it is essential that anyone seeking employment within this field have compassion for, and awareness of, the various challenges that such individuals face at this late stage of life. In these settings it is likely there will be added duties, such as that of monitoring food intake, the preparation of specialized diets and snack foods, and ongoing personal visits to residents. Any CDM seeking employment in these facilities will find it advantageous to hone their appreciation of, and communication skills with, senior citizens.

What Skills and Abilities Does a Certified Dietary Manager Need to Exhibit?

The typical certified dietary manager both oversees and participates in the preparation of meals for patients and/or residents on a daily basis. The nature of the job entails a wide variety of responsibilities, and therefore CDMs must demonstrate a number of specific qualifications.

  • Comprehensive understanding of nutrition and the ability to apply it to residents’ specific requirements
  • Must enjoy working with people, specifically those that comprise the institution’s resident population e.g., geriatrics
  • Excellent managerial skills, specifically, the ability to manage employees, including handling the interview process, hiring, supervision, motivation, discipline, and at times, termination
  • Must be a team player, able to participate in multi-departmental meetings and to coordinate and cooperate with other departments when necessary to provide for resident needs
  • The ability to assess and document patient dietary needs and preferences
  • Demonstrated documentation and record keeping skills
  • The ability to routinely meet tight deadlines
  • The ability to independently problem solve
  • Strong scheduling and organizational skills
  • The ability to cost-effectively budget for food, equipment, employee hours and the like
  • Above average computer skills including knowledge of common office management and specialized foodservice software
  • Above average communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Excellent mathematical skills
  • The ability to multi-task
  • Impartiality and an even temper
  • The ability to be on one’s feet and to work long hours
  • The ability to lift and carry in excess of 50 pounds

What Does the Certified Dietary Manager Do Each Day?

A CDM will have a schedule with predictable daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual tasks ascribed to it. For instance, there will be annual budgets to submit, monthly inspections and equipment maintenance tasks perform, and bi-weekly or weekly purchase orders to prepare, schedules to create, menus to plan, and more. All operations management tasks are under the auspices of the CDM, including personnel management, the development of job descriptions and lists of associated responsibilities, contracting with outside sources for anticipated and specific needs such as drain and range hood cleaning, pest control, and others. The CDM must ensure that adequate personnel be available to cover each meal shift to avoid delays and interruptions to residents. CDMs are responsible for placing food orders, maintaining, monitoring and rotating inventory, menus, projected food costs, keeping accurate food waste records, budgeting for equipment maintenance and replacement, employee orientation and training, and more. Additionally, the CDM must be able to provide documentation to justify changes to standard operating procedure (SOP) or to the layout and design of the long term care facility’s food service department.

In addition to the tasks necessary to the institutions’ daily foodservice provision, CDMs must also work in cooperation with a variety of other professionals, which likely will vary, depending upon the institution. For example, in a hospital, the CDM would be responsible for ensuring that a patient’s physician’s orders were followed so far as they applied to the patient’s diet. The processing of new resident diet orders and also, updating of changes as they occur, is an ongoing part of every CDM’s daily responsibilities.

It is up to the CDM to stay current with changes in state and federal guidelines and regulations affecting the foodservice industry, and to educate other pertinent staff members. They must document the food service department’s daily activities as well as residents’ diets, any concerns they might have, and provide written suggestions as to how these concerns might be resolved or addressed so as to provide better resident care.

What Type of Person is Likely to Enjoy Working as a Certified Dietary Manager?

Most people who work as CDMs recognize that the services they perform on a daily basis are of great value and contribute considerably to the life quality of a great many others. While definitely not a sedentary position, it is the type of career path that is typically rewarding to individuals who enjoy physical activity, interacting with a wide variety of different types of people, and knowing they have the ability to make someone’s life a bit better. It is a good position for people who enjoy being part of a team and who take pleasure in helping others. However, as much as anything, the position of CDM is an excellent job for someone who not only likes people, but who also enjoys cooking and food in general, and nurturing others with these talents in an efficient fashion.

Working as a CDM with 360 Healthcare Staffing

360 Healthcare Staffing offers both interim and direct hire opportunities for CDMs in all stages of their careers. Contact a recruiter today to learn about the benefits of working with this industry-leading team.

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