What is a Registered Dietitian
The “RD” credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association.
Some RDs may call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The definition and requirements for the term “nutritionist” vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.
Individuals with the RD credential have fulfilled specific requirements, including having earned at least a bachelor’s degree (about half of RDs hold advanced degrees), completed a supervised practice program and passed a registration examination—in addition to maintaining continuing education requirements for recertification.
Qualifications of a Registered Dietitian
A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:
- Earned a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by ADA’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completed an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
Approximately 50% of RDs hold advanced degrees. Some RDs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education.
RD/DTR Credentialing (CDR)
The Commission on Dietetic Registration is the credentialing agency for the American Dietetic Association. More than 80,000 dietitians and dietetic technicians across the country and the world have taken CDR exams over the past several decades. CDR currently awards seven separate and distinct credentials: Registered Dietitian (RD); Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR); Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition (CSR); and Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP), Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG) and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO).
The Commission’s RD/DTR certification programs are fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence based in Washington, D.C. This accreditation, which reflects achievement of the highest standards of professional credentialing.
RD/DTR Recertification Requirements
To maintain registered status, Registered Dietitians (RD) and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) must participate in CDR’s mandatory Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) recertification system and remit the annual registration maintenance fee.
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