So. If you are facebook friends with at least one Dietitian…. you have probably witnessed at least one post from that individual about how the RD is THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Nutrition Professional (I’m guilty of this, and I’m owning it).
I truly believe that this is because as a profession- it is still an undervalued one. Being a dietitian is a real job…. I mean I get a paycheck bi-weekly. There are those who: 1) Highly value Dietitians 2) Undervalue Dietitians 3) Don’t know what Dietitians are/do.
Hey there’s no harm in learning.
First of all RDs (Registered Dietitian) are qualified for all kinds of neat jobs:
-Clinical RDs (educating patients on their various disease states, and how to handle them nutritionally, calculating Tube feedings and TPN, weight loss)
-Food Service managers (Running a kitchen, and managing countless employees/ordering/creating menus)
-Working with athletes
-Working in the community such WIC, SNAP programs
-Specializing in a specific area such as Diabetes, Nutrition Support, Weight Management, Cancer etc and becoming a legitimate expert in that area
-Working with expectant mothers, families, and children
-Working with individuals who have eating disorders
-Calculating specific and individualized nutrient needs
-Doing research (I did this for awhile, it’s a real life thing, and I was paid real life money to do it. Boom.)
The list goes on.
So. What makes RDs different than “Nutritionists”? For one thing the RD credential is a protected, and legitimate credential, like that of a Nurse. People can’t say they are one when they are not. There are qualifications and criteria necessary to become an RD.
RD Requirement #1) I have a Bachelors degree of Science in Dietetics from MSU, I took classes in Anatomy, Biochem, Microbiology, Chemistry, and various nutrition courses that covered food service, nutrition therapy and management for disease states, and learning about metabolism and who food and nutrients are used on the cellular level. … I mean I went to the bar too…
Requirement #2) That degree and the grades I received in those classes were enough to qualify me and get me accepted into a Dietetic Internship to work towards 1200 supervised practice hours, (and also complete a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Wellness). The Internship prepared me to be a RD and give me real life exposure and knowledge, while those experiences and Masters coursework added to my knowledge base.
Requirement #3) Upon completing the first two requirements one becomes eligible for the “RD Exam”, upon passing this you are Registered Dietitian
Btw did I mention my internship was not paid- in fact I paid to work.
So RD’s have to do allllll of that. The term “Nutritionist” is not a “regulated” term, therefore anyone who has taken “a class” in nutrition, or reads an article, or a book can then say they are a nutritionist. See that list above. Do you want some unqualified Schmee-geggy giving you “advice” on how to handle some of those issues? I think not *cough* Dr. Oz *cough* *cough* those trainers at the gym *cough*
This is not to say RDs are the only people that can ever give advice but think of it this way- you don’t go to your mechanic for health problems, nor do you take your car to your doctor. My point here is we (RDs) are the only professionals who are schooled specifically on nutrition and nutrients interactions on/in the human body (FYI many doctors don’t even get 1 nutrition class…. ever)
I work with nutrition and discussing the human body all day, I am a nutrition expert. And I worked hard to get here. I personally/professionally am specializing in Diabetes Management and working towards becoming Board Certified in Diabetes Education (CDE).
You may have heard of a new letter being added to the “RD”— the RD”N” or RDN…. the RD and RDN credential can be used interchangeably the “N” is to more or less highlight the nutrition aspect. Additionally some states require additional licensure when working as an RD- especially if you will be working in a hospital and charting.
So this is my explanation and my “shout out” to all my RDs out there. This is a real profession, and we aren’t all tofu loving crazies, nor are we all food slinging food servers. We are people too. Trained people. Who also like beer and cupcakes.
So. Next time you’re out with your favorite RD buy him or her a cupcake and don’t tell them not to judge your food choices….. because they likely have their eye on something equally as “naughty” as you.