Who is a Registered Dietitian?
Have you ever heard of the word dietitian? It may sound kind of daunting because it has two intimidating words, diet and die. Although those words have a negative connotation, a dietitian can actually be really helpful! A dietitian, or more properly known as a registered dietitian nutritionist, specializes in assessing the nutrition status of individuals. They work in an array of settings, such as hospitals, schools, private practices, sports nutrition, and in community centers, just to name a few. As experts in food and nutrition, dietitians may find themselves menu planning, developing recipes, following budgets, or counseling patients and clients. Within each setting, a dietitian can specialize in a certain area, such as education, diabetes, and eating disorders. Depending on one’s needs, it may be helpful to seek out a dietitian. They can be referred by a primary doctor or can even be found online. Here’s another conundrum. Every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a dietitian. I know, we’re confusing! A dietitian must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition/dietetics, which follows an internship program consisting of supervised practice for about a year. Following the internship, they must also pass a national exam in order to practice as a dietitian. But wait, there’s more! In order to keep their credentials, dietitians must also meet the requirements for continuing education every five years. This includes attending seminars and passing other specialized exams. Although it’s a lot of work, it is necessary because it keeps dietitians up to date with current research, which helps meet the needs of their clientele. On the other hand, a nutritionist has knowledge in nutrition, but do not necessarily have a degree related to nutrition or any specialized training. Some nutritionists are certified, which allows them to work in specialized areas. When considering to seek out help regarding nutrition, it is important to be aware of which type of nutritionist best meets your needs.
Written by Dietetic Intern Melissa Ortega