What Kind of RD do You Want to Be?
Did you know you could be a registered dietitian (RD) for a hospital, sports team, private practice, or for a specific population like diabetic patients, pediatrics, professionals or even a traveling dietitian? The opportunities are endless, and the need for registered dietitians is growing immensely every year.
In order to become an RD, you need to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, 1,000 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND accredited dietetic internship, and then pass the national registered dietitian exam once those are completed. It is becoming more and more popular as time goes on to also obtain your master’s degree for this career to help extend your potential of securing the specific job you want as an RD. Additionally, starting in 2024, a master’s degree will be a requirement for becoming an RD. Many master’s programs have different concentration such as sports, clinical, public health, exercise physiology, food science and pediatrics to name a few. This additional education also helps you learn and gain experience in specific areas of nutrition that you may be interested in for your future job. Some RD’s also hold other certifications through other medical and nutrition organizations, which can be very helpful for securing a job in the future. These certifications could include: Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), National Board of Nutrition Support Certification (NBNSC), etc. Here are some of the popular areas of practice for RDs:
Growing up I always had an interest in exercises physiology, and sports, and knew I wanted my career to be related to the field. Nutrition was always a vital part of my life as well as everyone else’s, and I knew I wanted to help people better their lives and reach their health goals. As my courses in college started narrowing down, I came across a sports nutrition class and absolutely loved it. After that, I knew it was a career path I was very interested in pursuing. Within this field, there are endless careers for dietitians, all with different specialties needed. From owning a private practice counseling athletes to working with a professional or collegiate team, this area of nutrition is fast paced and rewarding.
RDs working in the clinical setting may work in hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities or other health care facilities. These roles have a big emphasis on educating patients about proper nutrition and providing medical nutrition therapy when it’s needed. Nutrition support including tube feeding and parenternal nutrition is also an important part of this field. Clinical dietitians can become board certified in many areas including pediatrics, diabetes, geriatrics, renal, oncology and many more.
Counseling, Food Service and Education
More interested in being an entrepreneur and opening up your own practice? More and more dietitians are doing that every day. You can either privately work with health care companies or be completely independent as your own business, specializing in the specific populations you want to work with. RDs can also work in schools and universities by either helping with the foodservice aspect or providing much needed education to the specific population of students and faculty at those schools. Learning proper nutrition and nutritional needs is important at all ages and is also a growing and changing field every day.
Nutrition research is an ever-evolving field, so if your interests lie in research design or data analysis, a career in nutrition research is a very important role and interesting career path to follow. If you think about it, so much nutrition information has changed since the 1900’s and keeps changing every day. More and more benefits of different foods are being discovered each day. Research is a major career path that is every evolving making it a essential part of the profession.
Corporate Wellness and Nutrition Communications
Another increasingly popular career for RD’s is corporate wellness. This is an opportunity for dietitians who are interested in prevention and wellness. This field allows dietitians to design and deliver strategic programs that target at-risk and healthy populations to educate them in ways to reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, RDs can address certain populations through nutrition communications and marketing. This allows them to effectively and efficiently reach a variety of populations to promote health and wellness is many ways. These roles could include writing for a personal or wellness blog, being part of a nutrition council, contributing articles to magazines, and even by using social media platforms.
RD career options are growing each and every day in many different aspects and specialties. As the years have gone on, the importance of this field has been recognized allowing for a more diverse number of career paths. Whatever your specific passion is within this field, you can make a future career out of it!
Written by: Katie Kassel, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern