Today, Wednesday, March 9th is Registered Dietitian Day... (and my dad's birthday- Happy Birthday Dad!)
Are you interested in pursuing a career in dietetics? Do you want to talk to an RD but are concerned about how qualified he or she is? Read on to learn what it takes...
What does it take to be a registered dietitian?
A lot of people ask me what I plan to do with a degree in Nutrition. Great question, since a nutrition degree alone is not the key to becoming a Registered Dietitian.
A nutrition student must complete a Bachelor's Degree in a Nutrition program from an accredited university (like the one at good 'ole U of A), or a Master's degree in a Nutrition program from an accredited university. It is important to note that it must be an "accredited" program in order to move on to the 2nd step of the process...
The nutrition student or graduate must then complete 1200 hours (increased from last year's 900 hours) of supervised practice in order to sit for the RD exam. These hours can be obtained (very competitively) through an "internship" after graduation, or a Coordinated Program, which is when you have clinicals and classes...(I am currently enrolled in the Coordinated Program at UA--even though I have already graduated...confusing-I know...I'll be 100% finished in May 2012. <<ahh!>>) It doesn't end there!
Then, they must pass the RD exam to seal the deal on the RD credentials. Many states, including Alabama, also require that an RD be licensed to practice so you would see LD, RD after the name of the dietitian. Legally, without these credentials, one cannot offer personalized nutritional advice, including diet and calorie needs (otherwise, I'd already be makin' mula!) *Don't worry, general information, like the kind you see on Be Well, is totally legal:)
Often, when I tell people I am a food and nutrition graduate- I get a lot of blank stares, and " how do you just study food?" So to answer the question---we don't just study food (and it is an actual career:) ... RD's also learn how food and nutrients perform at a cellular level, they are well versed in medical nutrition therapy, food science, and counseling, along with food service and production. They bring hours upon hours of supervised practice to the table, as well as earned credentials. So the next time you want nutrition advice, go to the "food and nutrition experts," A.K.A. Registered Dietitians--not Dr. Oz:)
Where does a registered dietitian work?
RD's have such a wide range of opportunities. From schools, hospitals, public health clinics, and fitness centers to private practice, universities, and research, a registered dietitian can have a hand in everything! There is also probably a registered dietitian behind the scenes of your favorite food service operation.
What exactly does a registered dietitian do?
RD's are there to guide others into a positive, healthy lifestyles. They are advocates for healthy lifestyles and
improving the nutritional status of individuals, and to (hopefully:) set an example of a healthy lifestyle... Dietitians even work with governmental agencies to improve and even change policies regarding the American food industry, and programs such as WIC and food assistance or SNAP, that help those in need.
Here's a breakdown from the American Dietetic Association:
- Registered Dietitians are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
- Registered Dietitians have degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities, completed an internship and passed an examination.
- Registered Dietitians use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes.
- Registered Dietitians work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research and private practice.
- Registered Dietitians are advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.
Search for one in your area here!
I found this cute online store full of great gifts to thank the RD in your life!
Happy Registered Dietitian Day! Thanks for all you do!