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AMEDD Corps History > Medical Specialist

Office of The Surgeon General

July 29, 1919

From: The Supervising Dietitian, U.S. Army
To: The Surgeon General, U.S. Army
Subject: Suggestions concerning the Dietitian Service

1. In accordance with your verbal request, I am submitting the following suggestions which I believe are in the interest of the Dietitian Service and the Medical Department of the U.S. Army.

(a) It would seem advisable that a permanent place be made for dietitians on the staff of the larger hospitals. The increasing demand on the part of civilian hospitals is indicative of the interest in the subject of nutrition and dietotherapy and the appreciation of the medical profession for this specialized and technically trained worker.

(b) It is also believed that it might be to the advantage of the medium sized hospitals to give the dietitian entire charge of the mess department, relieving the mess officer and mess sergeant of their duties--an arrangement which seems possible with the present system of buying. This would seem to be preferable to detailing a nurse whose training along the line of dietetics cannot consist of approximately more than 60 hours together with some practical experience in a diet kitchen, who in this case is not prepared to do anything more than to act in the capacity of the diet cook.

(c) In order to obtain well qualified and experienced dietitians, which it would seem the army should have, it is believed that an increase over the present salary must be offered. It is also believed that a well qualified dietitian would effect a sufficient saving through the proper management of the mess to more than make up the difference in salary. This had been the experience of civilian hospitals.

(d) In view of the many letters that have been received in this office, expressing disappointments and a feeling of unfairness at not receiving the same privileges as granted to nurses, namely, insurance, sixty dollar bonus, reduced railroad fare when on leave, accrued leave for the entire period of service, commutation of rations while on leave. It is believed that all female civilian employees of the Medical Department in the field receiving their appointment from the Secretary of War (in other words, technically trained women) should be granted the same privileges as are granted the members of the Army Nurse Corps.

(e) As a means of accomplishing the above, it is recommended that one of two things be brought about, first that a separate corps be maintained for dietitians with a competent supervising dietitian at the head, this corps to be a section of the Personnel Division. Or secondly, in case the privileges now granted nurses cannot be granted under the above arrangement, that the corps, with a competent supervising dietitian at the head, be made a sub-section of the Army Nurse Corps, with all of the attending privileges. The first arrangement would be much more satisfactory to the dietitians. In either case, it is recommended that dietitians in the field shall be responsible professionally to the Commanding Officer.

(f) It would seem advisable that there should be at one or two of the larger hospitals, a training school for army dietitians where regularly qualified dietitians might be under observation and instruction as to the special features of the army work for a period of time before being sent to other posts where they would probably be the


only dietitian. It would therefore seem advisable to have as head dietitians at these places the best qualified women that it is possible to secure.

Walter Reed General Hospital would seem the logical place to begin this training. From statements made by the Commanding Officer of that hospital, to the writer, it is believed that such a plan would meet with his hearty approval.

(g) It is further recommended that the supervising dietitian on duty in this office be put on the regular list of inspectors of the Hospital Division, to be called upon to make inspections where the mess is involved.

2. I am inclosing copy of a letter from Jeannette Martner, a returned overseas dietitian, which it is believed expressed the almost universal opinion of the 356 dietitians who have served during the present war emergency.

Supervising Dietitian