Who is an RD?

A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert who translates the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living and helps individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes. Qualifications to receive the credential “RD” include meeting academic and professional requirements listed below:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree at a US accredited university with coursework approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics  (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that includes biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy, chemistry and other sciences.
  2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a health-care facility which can typically run up 12 months in length.
  3. Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Refer to www.cdrnet.org for more information regarding the examination.
  4. Continue to meet professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. In Pennsylvania, LDN credential stands for “licensed dietitian-nutritionist”. Please refer to www.dos.state.pa.us for more information.

What is the difference between an RD and a Nutritionist?

The “RD” credential is a legally protected title and can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The definition and requirements for the term “nutritionist” vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for those who use the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.

Any person who is  in need of a nutritional guidance should be aware of health fraud in society and look for advice only from a licensed professional who is credentialed and can accurately relay nutrition information to the public.

Where do RDs work?

  • Hospitals or other health-care facilities: administering medical nutrition therapy and educating patients about nutrition as a part of the health-care team.
  • Foodservice operations in hospital, schools, day-care centers and correctional facilities: overseeing everything from food purchasing, food preparation and menu composition to managing staff.
  • Community and public health settings: teaching the public how to improve the quality of life through healthy eating habits.
  • Private practice: owning their own business and often under contract with health-care or food companies.
  • Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs: educating clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
  • Food and nutrition-related business and industries:working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development or consulting chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.
  • Universities and medical centers: teaching staff the science of foods and nutrition.
  • Research areas: directing experiments to answer nutrition questions and develop nutrition recommendations for the public.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics available at www.eatright.org

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