By Tawnie Kroll | Krollskorner.com
One of the most common questions I receive as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is, “What is the difference between you as an RDN and a nutritionist?”
My answer is simple – a lot! The terms dietitian and nutritionist are often thrown around as interchangeable terms but the differences between the two titles are largely different.
First off, RDN’s are food and nutrition experts who translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The criteria RDN’s must meet to earn the RDN credential and those of a nutritionist are listed below.
- Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Yes, college is necessary.
- Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. ACEND stands for Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and is the accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as RDN’s. This is more commonly referred to as the Dietetic Internship (DI). Competition for DI’s are extremely fierce and only about 50 percent of applicants are granted an internship upon applying. An internship program is typically 12 months in with the students has to complete a minimum of 1,200 supervised practice hours.
- Pass the national examination. This is an exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). It is important to note that by 2024, it is required to have a Master’s degree in order to sit for the Registered Dietitian Examination.
- Maintain Continuing Education Units (CEU’s). Continuing professional education units are maintained by attending conferences, going to lectures, webinars, online courses, etc. A total of 75 CEU’s must be completed every five years to maintain the RDN credential.
- Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. “Nutritionist” is a non-accredited title that may apply to someone who took a short course in nutrition and now gives themselves the title.
- The title nutritionist has been used by many unqualified people to describe their involvement in food and nutrition related areas. For your safety and health, please be aware of the differences of an RDN and a Nutritionist.
The bottom line I often tell people is all Dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are dietitians!
I encourage you to visit my blog at www.krollskorner.com for healthful recipes and nutrition information. You may contact me directly through the blog link as well.
Tawnie Kroll works at Clovis Unified School District as a RDN and has her own blog, www.krollskorner.com, which is filled with healthful recipes and nutrition information.