Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN)?
Answer: Both RD and RDN mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, RDN is a recent addition to our credentials.
Below are requirements to become a Registered Dietitian/RD (now also known as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/RDN):
- Minimum education of a bachelor’s degree with approved course work and education received through an approved and accredited program via Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
- Complete a supervised practice component with accredited sites (by the ACEND), practicums vary in length from 6-12 months at a variety of locations/experiences (food service, community, hospital/clinical, outpatient, wellness, etc.) This is combined with either undergraduate or graduate studies.
- Pass a national exam administered by Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) (more information here).
- Complete continuing education requirements to maintain registration.
- Most insurances will cover RD/RDN consultations, as we are a preferred provider on their lists of professional care.
Question: What’s the difference between a Registered Dietitian/RDN and a health coach or nutritionist?
Answer: Great question! A Registered Dietitian can refer to themselves as a health coach, wellness coach, or a nutritionist; but a nutritionist and a health coach can not call themselves a registered dietitian.
Registered dietitians (RD’s) are trained in the scientific, pathophysiology, and nutritional therapy aspect of nutrition, but RD/RDN’s and also trained in diverse aspects of nutrition counseling. There are a variety of RD/RDN’s with education and expertise in culinary/food science, community nutrition, coaching, counseling, women’s health, clinical care, sports nutrition, etc. No matter what our professional practice area, we all have in common to support our clients in any way possible including empowering them to reach their highest potential possible by lifestyle and behavior changes. Registered Dietitians have a diverse background in the sciences which is extremely helpful in understanding and applying nutrition components to facilitate the appropriate lifestyle changes.
Health coaches and nutritionist programs/certifications, receive a general/broad-based knowledge on nutrition, with less focus on the sciences and disease processes and applying specific medical nutrition therapy and focus on other therapies of care for the individual. Some health coaches offer expertise and knowledge on specific niche topics involving nutrition and wellness, but did not receive their education formally nor are registered dietitians. Both Registered Dietitians and health coaches are on the same team as we both serve as facilitators of change in their clients and want them to reach their fullest health potential!
I do not wish to mean Registered Dietitians have complete ownership or are “all knowing” on nutrition and the field of nutrition; what I am suggesting is do your research to find a health care provider with knowledge, experience, and expertise that you trust. If you are going to put your health and wellness into the hands of someone else, be sure they are truly a professional and an expert in their field rather than someone who may not have the expertise you need.
Question: What are those abbreviations behind your name, what do those mean?
Answer: MDA= Master of Dietetics Administration, RDN= Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (see above for more detail on what this means), CD= Certified Dietitian (this applies for the state in which I’m currently practicing, UT – This varies from state to state), CDE= Certified Diabetes Educator.
There are numerous names, titles, and “credentials” out there that one can get confused on what they mean. Below is a list of common names and credentials you may see following a practitioner’s name.
- AND: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally known as ADA, American Dietetics Association)
- RD: Registered Dietitian
- RDN: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
- LD: Licensed Dietitian
- LDN: Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist
- CD: Certified Dietitian
- FADA: Fellow of the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
- MS: Masters of Science
- MPH: Masters of Public Health
- MDA: Masters of Dietetics Administration
- PhD: Doctorate Degree
- CCN: Certified Clinical Nutritionist
- CDE: Certified Diabetes Educator
- CDM: Certified Dietary Manager
- CLT: Certified LEAP Therapist
- CNS: Certified Nutrition Support
- CNSD: Certified Nutrition Support Dietitian
- CSSD: Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition
- CSG: Certified Specialists in Gerontological Nutrition
- CSP: Certified Specialists in Pediatric Nutrition
- CSO: Certified Specialists in Oncology Nutrition
- CSR: Certified Specialists in Renal Nutrition
- DTR: Dietetic Technician, Registered
- ND, NMD: Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
* This list is not all-inclusive and not all certifications above are granted by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. For more information, please see the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website or the Commission on Dietetic Registration website.
Also, as a disclaimer: this website is intended as a place to share my thoughts, ideas, and knowledge on all things nutrition and health with you! Therefore, please use common sense and take a realistic and personalized approach when thinking about making any lifestyle changes. I’m a dietitian, not a physician; always check with your physician before start any new regimens. End of disclaimer.