Dietitian sitting behind a desk during a consultation.

Some Quick Facts About Dietitians

Registered Dietitians are experts and leaders in the field of food and nutrition. In fact, we are the only profession that can provide medical nutrition therapy and write nutrition prescriptions. Because of this, many of us are able to take insurance for our services (hooray for affordable nutrition care!). Dietitians are all about personalization. Everyone is different, so why would you follow a “diet” that was designed for the masses?

To become a Registered Dietitian, one must:

  1. Have at least a bachelor degree that includes specified coursework required by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Many RDs have advanced degrees.

    • Despite the belief that nutrition is a simple subject about meeting macronutrient profiles or avoiding certain foods or ingredients, our coursework is heavy in research, food science, biochemistry, and medical nutrition therapy (nutrition as it applies to the pathophysiology of diseases and their prevention, management, and treatment).

  2. Complete a 1200 hour accredited, supervised internship program.

    • Less than half of all dietetic students that apply to a dietetic internship get matched. (Hello to having excellent grades, nutrition-related job experience, many organizational memberships, leadership experience, and lots of hard work before ever even applying to a dietetic internship program!)

  3. Pass the “RD Exam,” a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

  4. Maintain their RD credential by completing continuing professional educational requirements.

  5. Obtain and maintain state licensure where required. AKA the “LD” or “LDN” credential after many RDs names.

A couple of misconceptions about dietitians:

Dietitians only work in hospitals or in foodservice…

False! Although clinical and foodservice roles within hospitals are common and necessary, many dietitians work in “non-traditional” fields as well. Just a few that comes to mind include writing, research, food science, corporate wellness, media, sports (yes, many of your favorite sports teams have a registered dietitian), entrepreneurial, product development, informatics, and management. The sky’s the limit!

Dietitians only teach the food pyramid…

False! Most dietitians pride themselves in their evidence-based and individualized approach to nutrition. The food pyramid was last updated in 2005, then completely replaced with MyPlate in 2011. These tools were developed to provide very generalized nutrition information to the average American but are no replacement for individualized nutrition therapy.

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