• Haley Dixon, Dietetic Assistant

Shaping the Health of the Future: the Role of a Registered Dietitian


What is a registered dietitian?

A registered dietitian (RD), also called a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), is a professional that specializes in nutrition and uses nutrition to prevent, treat, and/or manage diseases as well as maintain overall health. They must meet the following criteria to be considered a registered dietitian:

  • Completed at least a bachelor’s degree at a US regionally accredited university or college with course work accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Finished an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program (internship) at a health-care facility, community agency, or a food service corporation. This internship can be combined with undergraduate or graduate studies, but is usually completed upon graduation with a bachelor's degree. Typically, a practice program will run six to 12 months in length.

  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

  • Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some registered dietitians also hold special certifications. These certifications are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy, and/or other medical and nutrition organizations and are recognized within the profession. These certifications are not required. Some certifications include adult/adolescent weight management, pediatric or renal nutrition, sports dietetics, oncology, nutrition support and diabetes education. In addition to RD credentialing, many states also have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. However, these state requirements are frequently met through the same education and training necessary to become an RD.

Where can you find a RD?

RDs are not simply found in hospitals and clinics. They provide a valuable service to the public's health in a multitude of avenues.Registered dietitian nutritionists can work in a wide variety of employment settings, such as education, business, food service, corporate companies, health care, community or public health, government agencies, food science and research, and private practice.

Many work environments, particularly those in medical and health-care settings, require that an individual be credentialed as an RD. RDs work in:

  • Hospitals, HMO's or other health-care facilities: RDs educate patients about nutrition and administer medical nutrition therapy as part of a health-care team. They may also manage the food service operations in these settings, as well as in schools, day-care centers and correctional facilities, over-seeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.

  • Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs: RDs educate clients about the connection

between food, fitness and health.

  • Food and nutrition-related business and industries: RDs work in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.

  • Private practice: RDs can work under contract with health-care or food companies or own business. RDNs may provide services to food service or restaurant managers, food vendors and distributors or athletes, nursing home residents or company employees.

  • Community and public health settings: RDs teach, monitor and advise the public and help improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.

  • Universities and medical centers: RDs teach physician’s assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists and others the sophisticated science of foods and nutrition.

  • Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals: RDs direct or conduct experiments to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public.

For more information, visit The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics page.

What is the role of a RD and what can a RD do for you?

Registered dietitians are the food and nutrition experts who can translate science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. RDs use their knowledge to help individuals as well as whole populations to make better choices and improve their health. RDs use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes. The role of a dietitian goes beyond encouraging healthy eating; a RD educates, inspires, and acts as a guide on the journey to true health and wellness.

So ospreys, if you are seeking to improve your health, make an appointment with our RD, Yemila Lowry, at nutrition services today!

Until next time,

Haley Dixon

#nutrition #dietitian #nutritionist #health

For more information about meal plans or hours of operation, please visit dineoncampus.com/unf