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How to Become a Registered Dietitian?

how to become a registered dietitian

Do you have a good knowledge of health and nutrition and a love for helping people?

If so, working as a registered dietitian could be perfect for you. Good nutrition is the root of good health, and this job can play an important role in people’s lives.

However, it takes time to become registered, and you need to make sure that this is the perfect job for you. It is also necessary to choose the type of dietitian you want to become before registering.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a registered dietitian and what this job involves.

how to become a registered dietitian

What Is A Dietitian?

This role generally involves providing people with advice on food and nutrition. You would usually meet with people who are suffering from an illness because of pure nutrition. You would determine their dietary issues and explain the importance of eating healthily.

Dietitians often work closely with clients to create special meal plans and assess the results. This role could take place in a hospital, private clinic, school, or a wide range of other venues. You could also work with community outreach programs to promote the importance of good nutrition.

Types Of Dietitians

Before you dive right in, it is important to understand that there are several different types of dietitians. The exact role you decide to take on will influence the skills and knowledge you need. Here is an overview of the main types of professional dietitians and what each role involves.

Consultant Dietitian

These RDs usually work in private practices and provide special consultations to patients. It is also possible to work independently to provide independent consultation. If you choose the independent route, you could work at fitness clubs, for sports teams, and even for celebrities.

Clinical Dietitian

This role involves working closely with other healthcare providers such as physicians, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and speech therapists. The aim is to provide a holistic approach to the care of patients with complex and long-term illnesses. RDs provide specialized services in the area of diet and nourishment to ensure patients receive the targeted care they need.

Community Dietitian

This specialization gives you the chance to use your knowledge to benefit the community and make a difference. These RDs work with public health agencies, health maintenance organizations, home care agencies, and special wellness programs.

They focus on the needs of members of the community and provide information on health and nutrition to boost health. They may perform home visits to the elderly and infirm and oversee group consultations and special programs.

Foodservice Dietitian

Also known as food service managers, these RDs assist with food planning and services on a large scale. This can include designing and overseeing the food service plans for care homes, prisons, schools, and community restaurants. They help train and oversee food service workers and ensure that healthy and nutritious meals are provided.

Pediatric Dietitian

This role involves providing health and nutrition advice to infants, children, and teenagers. These RDs focus on early nutritional needs and work closely with schools, doctors, and parents. They design special treatment plans for children with food allergies, eating disorders, and conditions such as childhood obesity.

The Main Steps To Becoming A Registered Dietitian

To become registered, you need to have a certain set of skills and knowledge. Throughout your career, it is important to do as much research as possible into nutrition and its effects on the body. Here are the most important steps you can take to become a registered dietitian.

Earn an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree

You need to find an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics nutrition degree. Several colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in foods and nutrition, public health nutrition, or clinical nutrition. Make sure the course you choose is accredited and is suited to your chosen specialization.

The coursework will include information on nutritional therapy, evidence-based nutrition, community nutrition, foodservice systems, and applied food principles. After earning your bachelor’s degree, you might want to earn a master’s degree in a related field. Once you have completed the specified coursework, you will be able to sit the CDR exam.

how to become the registered dietitian

Complete an internship

Before you can become registered, you have to gain the specified hours of hands-on clinical practice. The best way to do this is with an internship such as a Dietetic Internship or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway. During the internship, you need to complete 1,200 hands-on work alongside a licensed and experienced professional.

The best way to find an internship is by using online dietetic internship centralized application services. This special online system matches applicants with the most appropriate internship opportunity in the United States.

Choose wisely…

It typically takes between eight and twenty-four months to complete an internship, depending on if you work on it full-time or part-time. It is important to take the time to select an internship that matches your career goals and interests. Distance and online internships are available to people who are unable to complete an internship in person.

Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration Exam

This is the most important step on your journey to becoming a registered dietitian. After completing the formal education and internship requirements, you need to be validated by the CDR. Once this is done, you are ready to take the registered dietitian exam.

Obtain a state license

The exact requirements for obtaining a license will depend on the state that you live in. The necessary information is provided by the CDR, and you need to make sure it is up to date. Generally speaking, the requirements should be satisfied by your degree, internship, and exam results.

Maintain your state license and registration

It is important to understand that you have to maintain your credentials so that your license remains valid. To do this, you have to complete 75 continuing education credits every five years. Of these, at least one credit has to be in ethics.

Within four months of completing your first activity, you will be asked to submit an activity log and learning plan. This is designed to prove that you are actively practicing as a dietitian. The Commission on Dietetic Registration proves all the information you need on keeping your license up to date.

The Registered Dietitian Associations And Groups

Joining an organization is a great way to connect with other professionals and keep your skills up to date. Most organizations are a great source of information and also run special networking events. Here are some of the professional RD groups and associations that you could join.

American Society for Nutrition

This association was established in 1928 and is designed to serve the needs of professionals. Members are invited to participate in a large number of annual networking events and take advantage of fellowship opportunities. Members are also provided with the latest research within the field as well as other useful information.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

This group of healthcare professionals was established during WWI and is dedicated to educating the public about nutrition. Membership is open to both experienced professionals and students, who receive discounts on insurance and resources. There are also regular networking events to attend so that members can make connections and share information.

how to become registered dietitian guide

International Confederation of Dietetic Associations

Joining this organization is a good way to connect with other professionals located around the world. Members are offered the opportunity to take part in educational programs and connect on forums. This is also a valuable resource if you are planning to move to another country and want to work as an RD.

National Association of Nutrition Professionals

This association focuses on providing support and advice to professionals who offer holistic nutrition services. The National Association of Nutrition Professionals runs a popular annual conference as well as opportunities for further education. Members are also treated to discounts on lab services, educational resources, and publication subscriptions.

School Nutrition Association

If you decide to work as an RD in a school environment, make sure you join this association. As a member, you will receive specialist training and education as well as help finding the right job. Other benefits for members include certification programs, publications, webinars, and access to special insurance plans.

Nutritional Therapy Association

This association was founded in 1997 and focuses on nutrition from the perspective of agricultural economic justice and environmental sustainability. The organization runs special courses in nutrition therapy, nutrition therapy consulting, and career development. Other benefits for members include special workshops, webinars, conferences, and business summits.

American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

This organization was established to support clinical nutrition research and education. As a result, members are provided with access to all of the latest research information, which they can apply to their daily practices. Other benefits of joining the organization include association committees to take part in, professional events, and peer-reviewed journals.

Additional Information On Nutrition

Well, you’ve got to ace those exams first, and we’re here to help! Check out the Registered Dietitian Exam Secrets Study Guide: Dietitian Test Review, the Registered Dietitian Exam Practice Questions: Dietitian Practice Tests & Review, the Registered Dietitian Exam Flashcard Study System, and the Registered Dietitian Exam Prep: 350 Practice Questions to study as well as practice for your exams.

For information on being a dietician, we recommend reading Launching Your Career in Nutrition & Dietetics: How to Thrive in the Classroom, the Internship, and Your First Job, the Academy Of Nutrition & Dietetics Complete Food And Nutrition Guide and the Nutrition: Understanding The Basics: Nutrition 101 all available online in 2023.

Lastly, why not try one of these fantastically healthy recipes with The Real Food Dietitians: 100 Easy & Delicious Mostly Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, and Dairy-Free Recipes for Every Day, the Diabetic Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes, and The 30-Minute Prediabetes Cookbook: 100 Easy Recipes to Improve & Manage Your Health through Diet to choose from.

Final Thoughts

It takes time and dedication to become a registered dietitian. This role is strictly regulated and requires specific education, experience, training, and licensing.

While it takes time and dedication to meet the requirements, you will be rewarded with the satisfaction of helping other people. This job also comes with a high salary to reward your persistence and hard work.

The starting salary for this role is around $50,000 per year, which can rise to $90,000 annually over time. Although most RDs work full-time, the working hours are flexible, which is perfect for people who have family commitments.

All the very best in your career as a Registered Dietitian!

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