Dieticians are experts on nutrition and food who can lend their expertise to help the lives of many other people by guiding them on how to live healthier lives by consuming a healthier diet. They study food, its nutrition content as well as other characteristics to know how they are beneficial or harmful to the human body. To be a dietician, you need to have training and years of expertise, and a valid license before you start practicing. Registered dietician nutritionists (RND) can work in many different work environments — public health sector, health care, government agencies, private practice, education, research, etc.
If you want to become a dietician, a good place to start is by enrolling in a BSc nutrition and dietetics program. Read this article to find out how to become a dietician and follow this as your profession full-time.
Earn a bachelor’s degree
The first step to becoming a registered dietician is by completing a bachelor’s degree. Students can earn their bachelor’s in anything like food and nutrition, clinical nutrition, dietetics, public health, etc. Students are expected to take up coursework in different topics like nutritional therapy, applied food principles, evidence-based nutrition, and more.
Complete an internship
Registered dieticians need to earn hands-on clinical experience before practicing by themselves, and that is done through internship programs. During internships most of these students are expected to cover a minimum number of hours, typically at least 1200 hours under the supervision of a licensed practicing senior. Students are expected to complete an internship program before receiving professional credentials to practice.
Pass the registration examination
Once these students and prospective dieticians fulfill their degree requirements, internship, and other criteria- they are required to pass a registration exam which is administered by a board (the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic registration). The exam lasts typically for about 2 and a ½ hours to complete a set of 120-145 questions. The questions can range from a variety of topics: nutrition management program, nutrition care, dietetic principles, etc. Look up and research to learn more about this examination. A registration exam is mandatory for earning a license.
Obtain a state license
In many cases, registered dieticians need to earn a state license for getting a job. The requirement to obtain and maintain a state license may vary from one state to another. You can find further information about licensing on the state licensure website.
Earn a certification
In certain states, registered dieticians are needed to earn a Certified Nutrition Specialist or CNS certificate which is provided by the board for certification of nutrition specialists. They are the ones issuing the license. Such certificates mostly entail that a dietitian has covered 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice, from clearing the examination to completing a graduate program.
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