What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?
“All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians”.
What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?
Registered Dietitians (RDs) are the true nutrition professionals. For instance, they are the only legally authorized providers of medical nutrition therapy in the state of North Carolina. It takes a lot of dedication to become a Registered Dietitian. First, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited nutrition program, which must be approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Before becoming a Registered Dietitian, you must first complete a 1200-hour clinical internship. This includes a series of rotations, such as:
- And food service rotations
To finally earn the RD credential, the dietitian must pass a national board examination (run by the Commission on Dietetic Registration). But it doesn’t end there! Registered Dietitians then must earn 75 approved of continuing education credits. They must do so every 5 years in order to maintain their credential! In North Carolina, dietitians must earn and maintain a state licensure, known as Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, LD (run by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition).
Registered Dietitians undergo training in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition science. They also have advanced training in supporting behavior change through a variety of counseling skills.
On the other hand, anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’, even after a weekend seminar. While well-intentioned, unlicensed nutritionists lack the training, knowledge, and experience that is necessary to deliver safe and effective nutrition therapy. For this reason, nutritionists may not legally provide individualized nutrition advice in the state of North Carolina.