If you’ve been following along for a while, you’re likely aware that I’ve been taking classes for the past several years on my way to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Next month I’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Maryland. Alas, the journey doesn’t end there. Last week I just got the notification that I’ve been matched for the next step, the dietetic internship. A bit of a misnomer, the internship is more like a residency program that I have to pay for. I’ve been matched (a lengthy application process where you rank your top choices and the various programs rank their top choices and the stars align and maybe you’ll get matched…only 40% of applicants get matched because there aren’t enough accredited programs for the number of applicants) with Sodexo in the Baltimore/DC area.
In September I’ll be placed at a hospital that has a contract with Sodexo, and I will begin 4 different rotations. There’s a clinical rotation, focusing on learning the various inpatient needs (how is diet adjusted for renal, cardiovascular, tube feedings, etc). There’s a food service rotation, focusing on the management and creation of balanced meals (this can be done in a variety of settings, but typically is either part of the hospital’s food service system or a school system). Then there’s the community rotation, which focuses on education and prevention within a community. And lastly at Sodexo there’s a concentration of your choosing. I’m hoping to do wellness, focusing on corporate wellness and how to inspire busy individuals to take time for their health.
Once I have completed the internship I can then sit for the registration exam. And then I’ll become a registered dietitian nutritionist!
What’s the difference between a nutritionist and a registered dietitian?
I explain this lengthy process because it’s important to know what to look for when you’re seeking the services of a nutritionist/dietitian. A nutritionist doesn’t necessarily have credentials. Anyone with an interest in nutrition can call themselves a nutritionist. Since most people like the term “nutritionist” better than “dietitian” there are some dietitians that call themselves nutritionist or nutrition coaches, but they will also have an RD or RDN after their name (and depending on the state may also have to be a licensed dietitian so there’ll be an LD or LDN too). A Registered Dietitian is the same as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wanted to include the “nutritionist” part because that sounds more friendly, so RDN is the new trend. But regardless, you want to ensure that your nutrition expert has either the RD or RDN credential after their name because that shows that they have gone through the whole education, supervised practice, and continuing education process.
If you have any questions, please let me know! Also, if you don’t already, please follow my Seat at the Table Facebook page for interesting articles and recipes.