How do nutritionists and dieticians differ?
Are you thinking about hiring a nutrition expert to assist with your health goals? Registered dietitian or a nutritionist? What’s the difference?
Registered Dietitians (R.D.) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (R.D.N.) earn a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many also have a master’s degree or doctorate degree. They also:
- Complete an extensive accredited, supervised practice program.
- Pass a national examination.
- Complete continuing professional education to maintain registration.
- Adhere to a code of ethics that protects individuals, organizations and communities with whom they work.
R.D.s are food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. They use their nutrition expertise to help people make positive lifestyle changes.
They are the only healthcare professionals who can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for conditions like diabetes and renal disease. MNT can improve patient health and reduce repeat hospitalizations.
Using MNT, R.D.s provide nutrition assessment, determine nutrition diagnoses, implement nutrition interventions and monitor and evaluate progress.
About half of all R.D.s work in clinical settings, healthcare or private practice. Others work in public health, academia and research, business and journalism.
There is no nationally recognized definition or standard for the term nutritionist. In fact, half of U.S. states do not require formal certification, licensure or regulation of nutritionists.
In unregulated states you may find nutritionists working in non-healthcare settings such as natural food stores, health clubs or chiropractic offices. They may or may not have formal training in nutrition, or they may just have taken a few nutrition courses online.
It’s important to know what the regulation is in the state you reside.
If you are considering working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist, be sure to ask about their education, license, certifications and experience working with people who have similar health concerns.
Make sure you are comfortable with their level of knowledge and expertise. And remember: All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 1-800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.
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