Registered Dietitians are food and nutrition experts. The Registered Dietitian (RD) credential is earned once academic and professional requirements are completed. These requirements include receiving a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, completing at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice through an accredited dietetic internship, and passing a national examination. Registered Dietitians are also to complete at least 75 hours of continuing professional education requirements every five years to maintain registration.Registered Dietitians have a background in food and nutrition sciences, food service system management, chemistry, microbiology, and physiology. Because of their diverse academic and professional training, RDs can work in a wide array of settings such as health care facilities, public health settings, food and nutrition industry, food service systems, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness, school districts, universities, research settings, and in other nonconventional work settings.
In addition, all RDs are members of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the United States. The Academy is a reliable resource for nutrition professionals as well as the public for credible nutrition information. As members of the Academy, Registered Dietitians believe in providing evidence-based nutrition information to all patients and clients. Similarly, RDs are the only health care professionals in the United States permitted to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Registered Dietitians can refer to themselves as nutritionists, however nutritionists are not able to call themselves RDs. Those with an RD credential have completed all requirements mentioned above. The qualifications to become a nutritionist are not clearly defined, and vary tremendously. Theoretically, anyone can claim to be a “nutritionist” regardless of his or her education or training.
Registered dietitians can choose to receive board certifications in different specialty areas such as pediatric nutrition, sports nutrition, oncology nutrition, etc. A Registered Dietitian with a CSG credential is a Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition. Board Certification is awarded in recognition of a RD’s documented work experience and successfully passing an examination in the specialty area.
For more information about Registered Dietitians, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Website at www.eatright.org