Registered dietitians are health professionals who apply the science and art of human nutrition to client needs. They help individuals and families of all ages, cultures, and economic means choose foods for adequate nutrition in health or disease throughout the life cycle. Dietitians also supervise the preparation and service of food to groups, develop modified diets, participate in nutrition research, and supervise the nutritional aspects of health care.
Registered dietitians may work in hospitals and other health care facilities or in private practice. They may work for government or community agencies, food industries, restaurants, schools, universities, the military, in communications, sales, or in a variety of other situations. As the public continues to recognize the dietetic professional as the true nutrition expert, demand for dietitians' services increases.
A registered dietitian is a professional who has completed a bachelor's degree in nutrition/dietetics, a dietetic internship program of 1200 hours, and passed a national examination. After becoming registered, a dietitian maintains continuing education requirements by attending workshops and lectures to keep his/her dietetics knowledge up to date.
The first step in becoming a registered dietitian (R.D.) is to enroll in a university that offers a Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics (DPND) granting a bachelor's degree. A DPND provides only the classroom courses and is accredited or approved by Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). ACEND, formerly known as the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE), is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitians (RD) or dietetic technicians, registered (DTR). The Nutrition and Food Science (NFS) program with Dietetics concentration at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is accredited by ACEND.
While enrolled in the NFS-dietetics program at MTSU, a student takes courses in a variety of nutrition, food science and management courses. Other support subject courses include sociology, statistics, biology, chemistry, and general studies in English, history, humanities, and communication.
The second step in becoming a RD is upon completing your bachelor's degree, you will then apply for and complete an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship Program (DI), The DI provides at least 1200 hours of supervised practical experience.
The third step in becoming an RD is to pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as RDs. This national examination is administered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In Tennessee, the requirements for being licensed by the state as a Dietitian/Nutritionist (LDN) are the same as they are for becoming a registered dietitian. After meeting registration requirements, you may apply for a license to practice as a LDN in Tennessee.
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