Are you thinking about hiring a nutrition expert to assist with your health goals? Registered dietitian or a nutritionist? What's the difference?
Registered Dietitians (R.D.) / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (R.D.N.)
Earn a bachelor's degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many also have a Master or Doctoral degree.
--Complete an extensive accredited, supervised practice program.
--Pass a national examination.
--Complete continuing professional education to maintain registration.
--Adhere to a Code of Ethics which protects individuals, organizations, and communities with whom they work.
R.D.s are food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. They use their nutrition expertise to help people make positive lifestyle changes. They are the only health care professionals who can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for conditions like diabetes and renal disease. MNT can improve patient health and reduce repeat hospitalizations. Using MNT, R.D.s provide nutrition assessment, determine nutrition diagnoses, implement nutrition interventions, and monitor and evaluate progress.
About half of all R.D.s work in clinical settings, health care, or private practice. Others work in public health, academia and research, business, and journalism.
There is not a nationally recognized definition or standard for the term nutritionist. In fact, half of the states in the U.S. do not require formal certification, licensure, or regulation of nutritionists. In unregulated states you may find nutritionists working in non health care settings, like natural food stores, health clubs, or chiropractic offices. They may or may not have formal training in nutrition or they may just have taken a few nutrition courses online. It is important to know what the regulation is in the state you reside. In Minnesota, nutritionists must be licensed and have a Master or Doctoral degree in nutrition, food science, life science, food management, or behavioral or social science, and 900 hours of practice experience.
If you are considering working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist, be sure to ask about their education, license, certifications, and experience working with people who have similar health concerns. Make sure you are comfortable with their level of knowledge and expertise and remember: all registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.)