Friday, March 15, 2013

Becoming an RDN: Picking a Route

Happy National Nutrition Month!  I'm a little late to the game this month you could say :)  I'll do another upcoming post on National Nutrition Month, which was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to highlight the importance of nutrition.  Since my career is obviously a huge part of my personal and professional life, I wanted to highlight exactly how I became a Registered Dietitian (RD)/Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist (RDN).  As of yesterday, both credentials are able to be used by RD's, which is exciting for the future and branding of our profession.

I receive a lot of questions about how I became an RD/RDN... from other health professionals, high school students, parents, college students and there is a lot of confusion around it.  In most majors, you go to school, graduate and then just get a job in your field.  It doesn't exactly work that way in dietetics... as there are a few routes to becoming an RD/RDN.  In today's post, I'll explain the different options and then next week, I'll post about how to become a competitive candidate.

My personal route: I attended the University of Cincinnati and started off in fashion design. I finally ended up in dietetics at the beginning of my junior year of school. I had some of my education requirements completed but barely any of my science credits... so I took summer classes - including an entire year of anatomy and physiology crammed into 9 weeks - and was able to graduate within 3 years of beginning the dietetics program, 5 years in total.  After finishing my undergraduate degree, I completed my internship through a coordinated program in dietetics as a certificate student and then sat for my board certification exam.

The basics...

The most important step is that your program is accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - you can find a list of accredited programs by clicking this link: 

If your school doesn't offer an accredited program, this might mean switching schools or completing a distance program.

Route One - best for a brand new college student: This is the most traditional route.  First, you complete an accredited undergraduate degree in dietetics/food & nutrition that fulfills the didactic portion of the dietetics curriculum.  In winter of your final year of schooling, you apply for the dietetics match.  If you are matched, you'll begin your internship after graduation.  Once it's successfully completed, you can sit for the board certification exam.  You can find a list of dietetic internships here:

Route Two - best if you already have an undergraduate degree:  Already have an undergraduate degree but not in the field of dietetics?  You'll need to complete the didactic components of the degree program - this can be done on it's own or in combination with a MS degree.  After completing your requirements, you'll be eligible to go through the same internship process as the students in step one.  Find a list of didactic programs here:

Route Three - best if the matching process seems too stressful:  Complete an undergraduate degree in dietetics or complete a didactic program with an already existing undergraduate degree.  Apply for an open spot in a coordinated program.  Once you successfully complete the program, you'll be able to take the board certification exam. Find a list of coordinated programs here:

Route Four - best for a brand new college student sold on dietetics: Apply to schools that offer a degree in a Coordinated Program in Dietetics.  Complete your degree and the supervised practice program in 4-5 years, sit for the board certification exam. Find a list of coordinated programs here:

I hope that was helpful :)  See you next time about a post on how to become the most competitive candidate possible so that someday you'll be able to see RD/RDN behind your last name.

Any other questions? Feel free to comment!