What is a Registered Dietitian?

I get tons of questions about my educational journey towards becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD), along with what the process is like, how long it takes and what the career is like, so I thought I would compile all the questions here.

What does a Registered Dietitian do?

Registered Dietitians help people to eat better and live healthier, translating the most up-to-date, complex scientific evidence into practical solutions. RDs support healthy living for patients, clients, and communities in a variety of different places. They study your personal needs and challenges and work with you to get the nutrients you need to have optimal health. They provide professional nutrition advice, from weight and diabetes management to enteral feeding. Dietitians are part of healthcare management, therefore their services are typically covered by healthcare insurance as well.

Where do Registered Dietitians work?

RDs are found everywhere, there are so many different opportunities. You can find RDs in various healthcare clinics, in food service management, as professional health educators, in scientific research facilities, in food production and marketing, in cancer and chronic disease care, among government advisers, in telehealth, and many running their own practices. Every dietitian that I meet do something different with their degree which I love. You can always find a sector that you adore, or a mix of things which is super common as well.

From the College of Dietitians, here is a more in-dept list:

Registered Dietitians work with families, communities and other professionals to help Albertan families achieve and maintain good health.

  • Registered Dietitians can provide expertise related to label reading, grocery shopping saving money at the supermarket, preparing meals and snacks for busy schedules, cooking tips and more.

  • Registered Dietitians work towards the prevention of childhood obesity.

  • Registered Dietitians work with individuals with eating disorders.

  • Registered Dietitians help athletes to meet their sport nutrition needs.

  • Clinical dietitians work in hospitals and long term care settings with clients as part of the interprofessional health care team to help treat and manage disease with specific nutrition care plans.

  • Outpatient dietitians work in interprofessional team clinics with clients who attend appointments.

  • Private practice dietitians run their own consulting businesses.

  • Administrative dietitians work in hospital foodservice departments and/or run and manage kitchen staff and foodservice production in schools, nursing homes, restaurants, industrial plants, military bases, and other institutions.

  • Community dietitians promote health and prevent disease within their community.

  • Public health dietitians advise government on population-wide initiatives to improve the health of all.

  • Research dietitians conduct food and nutrition research in academic and practical work settings to promote current, evidence-based professional practice and service.

    How do you become a Registered Dietitian?

    Every country is different. Where I am, in Canada, you have to do nutrition and general science pre-requisites, and then after you have completed the pre-requisites you then must apply to the dietetics program that has an integrated internship program at one of the accredited universities. After you have met academic education and practical experience requirements, you have to then complete the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (CDRE). They break it all down for you on the Dietitians of Canada website here. The best way to figure out what you need to do in order to become a dietitian would be to google “registered dietitian program” followed by your province or state.

Is it hard to become a Registered Dietitian?

In my opinion, yes, and I’m sure many other students would share this same opinion. It’s pretty widespread knowledge (especially at my university) that the dietetic internship program is very competitive. Even the pre-reqs are decently challenging for students, which are general science courses like organic chemistry and various anatomy courses. You definitely have to be passionate about sciences to do well.

About the Registered Dietitian Title

Registered Dietitians are regulated nutrition care health professionals. They are held to the highest possible educational and ethical standards when it comes to nutritional care, and undergo rigorous training both in university and on the job. In order to have the title, dietitians in Canada must be registered with the College of Dietitians in order to practice, and are responsible for continuing their education beyond their degree as they continue on in healthcare. Look for the RD beside someone’s name to know that they are a provincially regulated dietetics health professional. A nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian are not equivalent.


source: https://www.dietitians.ca/

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NutritionLisa Lorles