What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), formerly known as a Registered Dietitian (RD), is a highly qualified health care professional educated in nutrition and foods. An RDN has a Bachelor of Science or a Master of Science degree in human nutrition or dietetics and has successfully completed a dietetic internship and passed the registration examination administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. An RDN receives specific education and training to provide medical nutrition therapy and nutrition counseling to promote optimal nutrition, health and well-being.
Registered dietitian nutritionists work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice.
- Hospitals, HMO's or other health-care facilities, educating patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health-care team.
They may also manage the foodservice operations in these settings, as well as in schools, day-care centers and correctional facilities, over-seeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.
- Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs, educating clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
- Food and nutrition-related business and industries, working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.
- Private practice, working under contract with health-care or food companies, or in their own business. RDNs may provide services to foodservice or restaurant managers, food vendors and distributors or athletes, nursing home residents or company employees.
- Community and public health settings, teaching, monitoring and advising the public and helping improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.
- Universities and medical centers, teaching physician's assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists and others the sophisticated science of foods and nutrition.
- Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals directing or conducting experiments to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public.
In the state of West Virginia, the educational opportunity to become a registered dietitian includes undergraduate training programs offered at Marshall University in Huntington and West Virginia University in Morgantown.