Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist: What’s the Difference?

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March 4, 2014 by thehealthyheartcenter


March is officially National Nutrition Month, meaning it’s time to celebrate Registered Dietitians’ important role in the healthcare field. But first off, what exactly is a Registered Dietitian? I am sure you have heard the titles Registered Dietitian/RD and Nutritionist thrown around…so what exactly is the difference? The difference between these two professions is the credential. If you are searching for the most up-to-date and reliable nutrition information, you want to see a Registered Dietitian. Registered Dietitians have fulfilled specific requirements set forth by the official Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, on top of earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics. On the other hand, Nutritionists usually majored in something nutrition-related in college, and have a passion for the health sciences. Nutritionists have not necessarily completed the required undergraduate coursework Registered Dietitians have, such as Organic Chemistry, Food Service and Food Safety Courses, Nutrition Counseling, and Medical Nutrition Therapy. Although it is quite possible Nutritionists are very knowledgeable in these subject areas, it is not guaranteed. The most important difference between Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists is that after obtaining their college degrees, aspiring Registered Dietitians complete 9-12 months of supervised practiced (known as the Dietetic Internship), where they gain valuable hands-on experience. This program is approved by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and makes them eligible to sit for the National Registered Dietitian exam. Once passing the exam and officially becoming Registered Dietitians, they can hold positions in hospitals, community clinics, and food service agencies. Registered Dietitians complete continuing education every 5 years as well, making them even more qualified to give you the most up-to-date health care information. Although Nutritionists are also very highly esteemed professionals, always be aware of who you are getting your information from. Next time you seek nutrition-related advice, look to a Registered Dietitian instead of to articles on the internet or in magazines. Celebrate the Registered Dietitians in your community this month, especially on National Registered Dietitian Day on March 12th! Happy National Nutrition Month, once again…and remember to enjoy the taste of eating right not just this month, but all the time!


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