What is a Registered Dietitian (RD)?
Medical Nutrition Education will prepare you to be a Registered Dietitian (RD), a food and nutrition expert who works in a wide variety of employment settings. An RD understands the science of nutrition and is skilled in the art of teaching and counseling.
Educational and professional requirements for registered dietitians include:
- Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US regionally accredited university or college and coursework accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically a practice program will run six to 12 months in length.
NOTE: The UNMC Dietetic Internship Program meets this supervised practice program requirement.
- Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
- Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
To learn more about the educational requirements and accredited education programs, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Center website.
Registered dietitians who provide patient care must be licensed in most states - in Nebraska they are Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapists. These professionals generally work in hospitals or other health care facilities, such as outpatient clinics. They are key members of the health care team and perform such services as:
- Assessing and monitoring nutritional status of patients;
- Developing care plans to complement the patient's overall plan of medical care;
- Counseling patients and their families to help them achieve nutrition care goals relating to varied health conditions, and
- Working with the physician to manage enteral and parenteral nutrition support for patients who are not able to meet their nutritional needs with oral diet.
Registered dietitians have many other career opportunities, including:
- Food and nutrition related businesses and industries - foodservice systems management, communications, consumer affairs, product development, sales...
- Community nutrition - government sponsored public health programs, teaching the public, program development for target audiences, counseling in health clinics on topics related to pregnancy, infant feeding, geriatric care...
- Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs - client education about food and fitness...
- Private practice - consulting with long-term care facilities, nursing homes, restaurants, distributors, athletes, providing medical nutrition therapy for individuals/groups...
- Teaching and research - conducting research in laboratories or clinical settings, teaching medical students and allied health students...
- Writing - newsletters, newspaper columns, magazine columns for the public...