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What is a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Every Registered Dietitian is a Nutritionist, but not every Nutritionist is a Registered Dietitian!


What is a registered dietitian/registered dietitian nutritionist?


A registered dietitian (RD)/registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree with course work in food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Completion of an accredited, supervised, experiential practice programs at a healthcare facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
  • Passing the national examination by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Maintaining registration and licensure by completing on-going continuing professional education.

Recently, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Board of Directors and the Commission on Dietetic Registration approved the use of “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN) by registered dietitians. The credential registered dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist have identical meanings and legal trademark definitions. The Academy established this option to further enhance the RD brand and more accurately reflect to consumers what registered dietitians do. 


What services to RDs/RDNs provide?
Many dietitians work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the medical team) in:

  • Hospitals
  • HMOs
  • Private practice
  • Long-term care facilities

However, dietitians are not just limited to working in those fields. Dietitians can be employed in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Academia and research
  • University or college Wellness or Health Center
  • Public health, such as WIC (Women, Infant and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
  • Sports nutrition at all levels- collegiate, professional league, Olympics, etc.
  • Food Industry
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Journalism
  • Business
  • School nutrition
  • Community, such as a health club or gym
  • And more!


What is the difference between a registered dietitian/registered dietitian nutritionist and a "nutritionist?"

The terms “registered dietitian” (RD) and “registered dietitian nutritionist” are legally protected, just like a “registered nurse” (RN) or a “medical doctor” (MD). In order to use either title, an individual must complete specified academic and professional requirements and pass a board certified exam "see "What is a registered dietitian/registered dietitian nutritionist”). Unfortunately, some people abuse the term “nutritionist” and sell supplements or counsel people when they lack any specific education or training. Most states, including Georgia, require dietitians to be licensed if they provide nutrition counseling. When seeking nutrition services, always verify the provider is a registered dietitian (or registered dietitian nutritionist) through the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is licensed in the state they are practicing.


For more information about RD/RDNs:

· Top Ten Reasons Why Consulting with a Registered Dietitian Can Benefit You

· Registered Dietitians...Bring Food and Nutrition Expertise to the Table

· Registered Dietitians and Medical Nutrition Therapy Services


Ever thought about dietetics as a career path? Feel free to schedule an appointment with your campus dietitian to discuss what it takes to become a dietitian. Call 770-423-6394 to schedule your appointment today!