Dietitian or Nutritionist – What’s the Difference?
If you believe that nutrition impacts your health [we do!], it’s important to understand the qualifications of the nutrition professional you select to help you meet your health goals. We are often asked, “What is a Registered Dietitian?” and thought it would be worthwhile to explain here.
- Complete a 4-year undergraduate and/or 2-3 year graduate degree in nutrition from an accredited institution
- Complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice in healthcare facilities and community settings
- Often participate in published, peer-reviewed research
- Must earn continuing education units [CEUs]
- Follow a strict code of ethics and must be HIPAA compliant
- Pass a board exam administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Must maintain malpractice insurance
- Can use the credential RD or RDN [Registered Dietitian Nutritionist]
- May accept health insurance for their services
The title of “nutritionist” is used to convey expertise. Certificates from online programs are advertised as credentials or degrees, but they are not. Nutritionists without credentials may identify as health care practitioners without having the clinical experience or formal education required of Registered Dietitians. This type of nutritionist is not accountable to any organization or laws.
It is important to understand the qualifications of the person to whom you entrust your health. Before you let someone review your blood work, test your hormones, recommend supplements, or advise you on following a particular nutrition plan, ask about their education and credentials. It’s your right to know.
See more information on the benefits of working with a Registered Dietitian.