Dietitians or Nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition (“dietetics”). They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. They work in a variety of settings from clinical to community and public policy to media communications.
Registered dietitians (RD), now usually called registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN), are dietitians who meet academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor’s degree, and fulfilling a specially-designed, accredited nutrition curriculum, passing a registration exam, and completing a supervised program of practice at a health care facility, foodservice organization or community agency. Roughly half of all RDNs hold graduate degrees and many have certifications in specialized fields such as sports, pediatrics, renal, oncological, food allergy, or gerontological nutrition. After learning about patients’ health history, favorite foods, eating and exercise habits, an RD will help individuals set goals and prioritize. Follow-up visits often focus on maintenance and monitoring progress.
The majority of RDs work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, as part of medical teams), often in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, private practices or other health care facilities. In addition, a large number of registered dietitians work in community and public health settings and academia and research. A growing number of dietitians work with food and nutrition industry and business, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs and other non-traditional work settings.[3