Dietitians are board-certified food and nutrition experts who specialize in dietetics, the science of food, nutrition, and their impact on human health. Called registered dietitians (RDs) or registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), they are analyzers, healers and humanitarians who provide medical nutrition therapy to protect health and alleviate allergies and disease symptoms.
Often confused with nutritionists, the role of RDs differ in the education required and in that they are licensed to help diagnose and treat illnesses. Clinical dietitians work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, in- and outpatient clinics, and private practice with clients experiencing eating disorders, substance abuse or medical conditions with symptoms that can be improved or managed with a more specific diet or meal planning. Dietitians may also create and implement meal plans in hospital cafeterias, schools and food corporations, or work with larger populations regarding nutrition and food issues in government positions and nonprofits.
At minimum, dietitians must have a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, dietetics or public health nutrition including a verification statement from a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), followed by an internship under a licensed professional. They then need to pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. Job growth for dietitians is projected to increase 11% by 2028.