It is easy to confuse the terms dietitian and nutritionist. In most countries, the title nutritionist is not subject to professional regulation. Any person may call themselves a nutrition expert, whereas the title of dietitian can be used only by those who have met specific professional requirements. One way to distinguish the two is to remember all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is an expert in areas of food and nutrition. RDNs are accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist has completed an undergraduate program in nutrition and also a one year clinical internship program. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists must pass a national exam administered by the American Dietetic Association. Registered Dietitians must also maintain their registered status through continuing education and advanced degrees/certifications for areas of specialization. Examples of specializations include certification as a cardiac dietitian, nutritional support dietitian, sports nutrition, or a certification for diabetes education.
RDNs are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. RDNs use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes. They work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, universities, research and private practice. RDNs are advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.
Registered Nutrition and Dietetic Technicians (NDTRs) are educated and trained at the technical level of nutrition and dietetics and for the delivery of safe quality food and nutrition services. They are nationally credentialed and are an integral part of healthcare and foodservice management teams. They work under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist when in direct patient/client nutrition care; and they may work independently in providing general nutrition education to healthy populations.
For more information visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org/