Q: How Is an RD Different Than a Nutritionist?
The “RD” credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association.
Some RDs may call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The definition and requirements for the term “nutritionist” vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.
Individuals with the RD credential have fulfilled specific requirements, including having earned at least a bachelor’s degree (about half of RDs hold advanced degrees), completed a supervised practice program and passed a registration examination—in addition to maintaining continuing education requirements for recertification.
Q: What are the Qualifications of a Registered Dietitian?
A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:
- Earned a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by ADA’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completed an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
Ayla Withee completed her Bachelor of Science and accredited, supervised practice program at the University of Connecticut. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Science in Health Communication from Boston University. In addition, Ayla holds is certified in Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management. She is an active member of both the American Dietetic Association and the Massachusetts Dietetic Association.