What Does a Registered Dietitian Do?

For those interested in health and nutrition, in either a personal or professional capacity, the duties of a registered dietitian (RD) may be of interest. Above and beyond a simple understanding of the vital areas of well-being, dietitians that have attained credentialed status assist people in crafting a lifestyle plan that integrates beneficial eating practices. Below, we’ll explore the varied roles such diet experts play in society, and how they apply their specialized knowledge.

Educational and Professional Requirements

Although in some states it is possible to perform the duties of a registered dietitian without accreditation, most states do require it. Many companies that employ dietitians prefer to hire those who have completed the necessary programs and certifications. Today, many programs of study exist that have been tailored to meet the standards set by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Individuals interested in becoming a credentialed dietitian should explore these programs specifically.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in an approved program, these dietitians are also expected to complete 1,200 hours of guided practice during an internship or other approved program. They are then ready to take the national standardized exam that has been crafted and administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Job Description and Potential Applications

A dietitian that has completed all the requisite steps in their education is integral in designing healthy eating and lifestyle programs for both individuals and groups. They may find employment with a private practice or firm that allows them to council individuals and guide people in making healthy eating choices. RDs can also enjoy a successful career as a private or self-employed consultant, which may allow them to devote more intensive focus to single patients or special-needs groups.

Credentialed dietitians are essential to the smooth maintenance of large organizations, as well. Hospitals and nursing homes are especially reliant upon the skilled assessments of dietitians when crafting the meal plans of an ever-changing population of residents with specific, individual needs. Government organizations and food service companies may also call upon the training of a dietitian, in order to ensure that employees or the communities they serve obtain the nutrients they need.

Peering further into the arena of government-run organizations, community programs designed to serve traditionally marginalized populations may also have need of dietitians. Food banks, community kitchens, shelters, urban garden programs, and self-help education aimed at improving nutritional skills within the homes of a community benefit from the skill set of these highly qualified nutritional specialists.

More Than Vitamins and Minerals

Dietitians do more than tally up the requisite nutrients needed by a human body. In addition to considering physical conditions of the body, such as disabilities, illnesses, or heritable traits and predispositions, they may also assess the cultural needs and patterns of an individual or a community. Observances of meatless days, prohibitions of certain foods, or a culturally practiced vegetarian lifestyle will all impact the needs of groups or individuals. A dietitian’s education includes a much broader, more pragmatic focus on incorporating non-physical needs, cultural beliefs, and psychology into everyday practice.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing an educational path or in need of the services of such a credentialed nutritional specialist, the field of what and how we eat is fascinating. Individuals with such skill sets may hold the keys to a variety of social needs, nutritional oversights, and even a deeper understanding of how cultural attitudes are expressed in the foods eaten. A registered dietitian uses their training to help individuals attain a better quality of life and to aid in the healing process for thousands of people, which is as deeply rewarding as it is essential.

For more information on a degree in the field of health, please see: Top 20 Most Affordable Health Science Degrees.