What's in a name?   How to know if your nutritionist is truly a nutrition expert.


Registered Dietitians (RDs) are uniquely qualified nutrition professionals with a broad and extensive educational background in nutrition.  RDs are required to complete a four-year degree in nutrition and dietetics, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), complete a 6-12 month accredited internship or practical experience, pass a national exam, administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and complete 75 professional continuing education credits every five years to maintain their registration. 

Their education encompasses in-depth knowledge of the physical sciences, as well as many nutrition-specific courses, all essential for thorough understanding and application of nutrition.  Their practical post-graduate experience is unique to RDs and allows them to apply nutrition principles to a vast array of disease states, as well as educate people on the latest in nutrition for wellness and disease prevention. Many RDs go on to receive master’s degrees or achieve specialty certifications to further their nutrition training. 

Many RDs in NY state are also Certified Dietician/Nutritionists (CDN).  CDNs are subject to many of the same stringent qualifications as RDs.  CDN’s must have either:  a bachelor's degree in dietetics/nutrition with a minimum of six months of acceptable experience OR an associate's degree in dietetics/nutrition with at least eight years of acceptable experience, in addition to passing a State-approved licensing examination.

 DTRs are food and nutrition practitioners who often work in conjunction with RDs.  DTRs must complete at least a two-year associate’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and course work approved by CADE of the ADA, including 450 hours of supervised practical experience. Like RDs, DTRs must also pass a CDR administered national exam, and complete professional continuing education credits every five years to maintain their registration.    A nutritionist is anyone who specializes in the study of nutrition.  There are nutritionists who do not go through all of the training and education requirements of an RD, CDN, or DTR.  They may have some nutrition background or none at all.  Anyone can call themselves a NUTRITIONIST!  Take care in choosing your nutrition professional. Ask questions about their specific training and education to ensure you receive the best nutritional care.  

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