Registered Dietitian Day: What Makes a RDN?
Today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day! Celebrated during National Nutrition Month ®, RDN Day is an important observation of the contributions and expertise of Registered Dietitians as they pertain to the fields of nutrition, dietetics, and food science. RDNs work in a variety of settings, everywhere from army hospitals and nursing homes all the way to the sidelines of a NFL field or a large food management company. The path towards becoming a RD begins with an accredited program work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry. After successful completion of the bachelor’s degree program, aspiring RDs must complete an accredited, supervised practice program usually lasting nine months at a health care facility, community agency, or foodservice corporation. This combination of course work and hands on experience in the field helps prepare them to take a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Passing this exam entitles a person to use the RD or RDN credential, however, in order to maintain registration on an ongoing basis, continuing professional education such as attending seminars and conferences, taking courses, or attaining advanced degrees must be completed. Over half of RDNs hold advanced degrees and in 2024 all incoming RDNs will be required to have a master’s degree. Some RDNs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, sports nutrition, and diabetes education.
RDNs are highly skilled in translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living and help individuals make personalized, positive lifestyle changes. Through years of detailed coursework kept current by required continuing education, RDNs provide reliable and relevant nutrition information. Titles such as nutritionist, nutrition coach, or health coach are not regulated like the RDN credentials-technically anyone can call themselves a nutritionist without obtaining any education or experience in the field. Nutrition information is widespread and there are many sources to turn to; make sure you are confident in the knowledge level and credentials of those you take nutrition recommendations from!
This RDN Day, take a moment to appreciate and thank the RDNs you may know and work with. They are the gatekeepers of the specialized science of nutrition and passionately work towards fostering individualized, sustainable, and positive changes for the health of our bodies and environment!