Nutrition Experts The evolving trend in disseminating accurate information especially on something that impacts people’s health has created more confusion among the consumers. How do you determine if the information you have about food and nutrition is coming from a reliable source?
As research studies are published, the media grabs them and disseminate as quickly as they come. However, some reports become twisted when certain information lacks clarification from the reliable professionals who can further explain the facts. And so, people become indulgent in spreading incorrect information which create confusions. Therefore, to take to the right journey to nutrition and health, professionals like Registered Dietitians Nutritionists are the right resource to properly navigate the world of food/diet and nutrition.
Registered Dietitians & Registered Dietitians Nutritionists – RDs & RDNs are professional experts in nutrition. They are trained to provide expertise in the prevention and treatment of disease including administering medical nutrition therapy. They can translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They also have special skills in translating medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public, work with people with special dietary needs, evaluate and provide medical nutrition therapy & dietary education to clients and other allied health professionals and community groups.
Dietetic Internship Program – In addition to the accredited undergraduate program requirements, a dietetic student must fulfill a accredited training program, such as the the dietetic internship. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) requires that Dietetic Internships must be at least 1200 hours in length which lasts from 8 to 24 months. The program must also be an ACEND-accredited program, similar to the undergraduate requirements. The program must be in a supervised, and practical experience settings.
The Dietetic Internship Program encompases critical curriculum including Clinical Nutrition Research, Nutrition Therapy, Clinical Medical Nutrition Therapy, Wellness, Pediatric Nutrition, Diabetes, Geriatric Nutrition, Community Nutrition both in inpatient and outpatient settings.
Nutritionist is a non-accredited title whose academic and training requirements did not meet the requirements set forth by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition & Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND). For this reason, the term Nutritionist is not protected by governing law in the United States and many countries around the world.
The term “Nutritionist” is an unregulated term in which anyone who act as practitioners may have varying degrees of education in nutrition. Some may or many not have adequate or appropriate nutrition education before enrolling in a certificate program, others may have masters or PhDs in fields other thans Nutritional Sciences. Nutritionists don’t work with accredited hospitals or medical institutions and are not clinically trained to treat patients with diseases. Some of them work in private practice and deliver their service according to their terms. There are some nutritionists however, who are trained in other advanced fields than the average dietitian such as advisement in treating food allergies and sensitivities. They also provide alternative therapies than dietitians.
Some nutritionists who do not carry credentials like the RDs have completed University Degrees in Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food and Nutrition, or Food Technology and some are called Food Scientists who many of them work for food manufacturers, such as Sysco Food Company and Sodexo. Like Research RDs, some Food Scientists work in research such as at National Institutes of Health (NHI) of Food & Drug Administration (FDA). However, Nutritionists do not have any professional practical training, and therefore are not engaged in providing nutrition diagnosis and medical nutrition therapy.
The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) offers certification for Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) provided that they meet the requirements as set forth by the accrediting board. The requirements are similar to the RDs in which an advanced degree is required with a completion of 1,000 hours of supervised practical experience or dietetic internship. Following training, they must successfully pass the CBNS certification examination and complete continuing education credits.
Fact #1: Distinctive Title – Remember, you cannot interchangeably use the term “Dietitian and Nutritionist” because they cultivate distinctive qualifications. Each title carries legal restrictions that distinctly portray appropriate education, training and professional experience.
Fact #2: Professional Title – Registered Dietitians (RDs) are also called Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists can be called Registered Dietitians. Registered Dietitians carry the title of Registered Dietitians Nutritionists (RDNs). The State of Georgia and many of the States of the Union require Dietitians and Nutritionists to obtain an occupational license from a Board of Nutrition to be able to carry the title of Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LD/LN). However, there are few States that allow individuals to practice as nutritionists without any previous education, training or work experience.
Fact #3: Credentialing Board & Accountability – RDs have met specific requirements both in academic and experience set forth by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The credentials RD (Registered Dietitian) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) are both nationally-recognized and legally protected professional titles which must only be used as authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of AND. These governing bodies hold each RD and RDN accountable for their conduct and the quality of care they provide to ensure reliability and safety of their professional practice.
Fact #4: Minimum Academic Requirements – A RD must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, nutrition or nutrition sciences. Such program must be approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition & Dietetics (ACEND) and must include course works in Food & Nutrition Scienses, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physiology, Microbiology, Foodservice Systems Management, Computer Science, Business, and Sociology.
Fact #5: Advanced Academic Requirements – Currently, half of the RD professionals hold advanced degrees which comprise courseworks in clinical dietetics, food science, community nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, life-cycle nutrition, education methodology, biochemistry, microbiology, social sciences, human anatomy and physiology, and other nutrition and culinary related courses. In the coming year, the AND will require an advanced degree in order to meet the requirements to take the dietetic registration examination.
Fact #6: Training Requirements – A RD must complete a year long dietetic internship from accredited hospitals or institutions, or supervised practice program which involves hands-on and in-the-field experience.
Fact #7: Continuing Expertise – RDs have must passed the registration examination and must obtain continuing education credits in order to maintain certification process. The purpose is to ensure that all RDs/RDNs keep abreast of the latest information and knowledge in research findings and practice.