Becoming a Registered Dietitian
I thought today would be the perfect day to talk about Registered Dietitians! Know why???? Today, March 12th, is National Registered Dietitian Day! Yup! So if you know any RD’s out there…you know, like me…wish them a happy RD Day! Help celebrate this amazing day of the year and pass the word around. Dietitian’s are going to be one of the major key players in the future health of our country – educating, promoting and spreading the word about nutrition. We definitely deserve a whole day of celebration!!
Now, maybe some of you out there aren’t totally familiar with what a dietitian does or why we have a whole day devoted to the celebration of our careers. Well, in my so humble opinion, RD’s are pretty awesome and thus deserve some attention. Our official job description from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics says “RD’s are THE official food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a registered dietitian nutritionist are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices.” And that’s a pretty accurate description of what I do, I think. I’ve really enjoyed being an RD so far. I love helping people in a field that I’m very passionate about.
I obviously being a dietitian and working in this field is awesome. But are you thinking about dabbling in the field of nutrition? Interested in getting your own RD credential? Awesome!! I can give you TONS of tips and tricks to make your somewhat journey successful. The path can be long and difficult, but I promise the end rewards are phenomenal! Here’s what you need to do to get your RD:
- Get a BS in Nutrition & Dietetics from an accredited 4 year institution. You can check out on EatRight website (click here) for a list of colleges and universities that provide the proper coursework needed for an undergraduate degree in nutrition. Not all schools provide this, so if this is something you’re seriously interested, make sure you look at schools that are accredited. Like UMD!!
- While you’re getting your degree you need to get experience in the field of dietetics – volunteer work, jobs and extra curricular activities are very important. When you are applying for your dietetic internship (see next bullet) the program directors will be looking for a candidate with good grades, work experience and a great personality. So try very hard to get as much experience in clinical, food service and community nutrition as you can. A good way to start is to email your local AND association and ask if anyone needs some help! I did this and got tons of responses!
- Apply for your dietetic internship! This is by far, the scariest and most stressful part of your journey to be an RD. The match rate of candidates applying and actually getting an internship are somewhat low – my year was around 50%. Not great. But not impossible either. However, you NEED to get and complete an internship in order to be eligible to take the RD exam and receive your credentials. When choosing internship programs, pick one you’d actually like to be apart of and think would help further your career. Don’t try to strategize or out think the system. It doesn’t work. Just do your best with all the applications and essays. Ask other RD’s for help reviewing your application, writing samples, etc. I’m always available to help to – just fill out a form on my contact page.
- The internship. This is another somewhat stressful part of your journey. However… I have to say, this is where you learn it all! This is the time where you learn the knowledge and skills to be a dietitian. School helps, but it’s nothing in comparison to your internship. That being said, do your best. Try your hardest. And remember, the internship is one giant long interview. So always put your best foot forward! Many jobs come out of doing well in your internship.
- Pass the exam! The last part of your journey. You’ll be terrified and think you’ll fail. But you won’t. Because you’ve been trained well. You know your stuff. You’re confident because you done everything so well so far. This is just the icing on the cake. And when you pass, you’ll see how sweet life is!