How do you become a Registered Dietitian?
1. Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US regionally accredited university or college and course work accredited or approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
Didactic Program in Dietetics: provides the required dietetics coursework leading to a bachelor’s or graduate degree. We always called these “DPD classes.” Just as pre-med students have required classes to get into med school, we have classes needed in order to obtain a dietetic internship.
Coordinated Program in Dietetics: combines the required dietetics coursework and the supervised practice (aka dietetic internship, see #2) leading to a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
2. Complete a dietetic internship. If you haven’t completed a coordinated program in step 1 — you will need to apply for a dietetic internship. Programs last 6-24 months depending on the availability of a part-time schedule or requirement of graduate degree. Dietetic Internships are awarded on a competitive basis and use a national computer matching process.
Just as doctors are matched for their residency, this is basically how dietetic students are matched to a dietetic internship. Not everyone gets matched, so some students have to go through this process more than once.
3. Pass the national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), aka the RD Exam.
4. Find out if your state required licensure — most do. Basically all you do is pay money to the state and because an licensed dietitian — hence, why I have LD after my name was well. To maintain your licensure you will need to complete continuing education units (CEUs)– but don’t worry, you can usually use the same one’s you need in #5.
5. Uphold your registration status by completing 75 CEUs every 5 years. You will enter these online and I highly recommend using the Personal Development Portfolio you are given, to keep paper copies of all your CEUs. You can be audited for successful completion.
What path did you follow? Where did you go to school?
I completed my BS, MS and dietetic internship all at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. My BS degree was a DPD program and I completed it a semester early. I was able to start my MS a semester early, which was wonderful. During this semester, I also decided to do early matching with CWRU’s dietetic internship and actually did not have to go through the matching process. I’m not sure how common this is for schools though.
While my MS and dietetic internship we not a coordinated program, I did complete them at the same time. It took approximately 20 months and I had two summers + 1 semester of rotations and 2 semesters of coursework. Other gals in my program did have coursework and rotations during the same semester, so I lucked out.
I finished my program in August 2009, finished final touches on wedding plans for our September 2009 wedding, studied for the RD exam in October, and then sat for and passed on the first try in November. It was certainly an exciting whirlwind! Ohh and I forgot to mention that my dietetic internship program required an out-of-state block rotation… so I actually lived and worked in Hawaii from mid April – late June 2009. Incredible!
What study materials did you use? How did you study for the RD exam? Where do you find CEU’s (especially free ones)?
If you have a question about becoming a registered dietitian, please feel free to ask me in the comments section or email me at email@example.com. Please also visit the AND website at www.eatright.org for more information.