A registered dietitian plans food and nutrition programs for groups of people or for individuals. In group settings they work for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities or for school districts in devising good nutritional choices. The dietitian may also work individually with people to help manage their illnesses by recommending a specific diet plan. To become a professional dietitian, you must attend college to learn a variety of subjects including nutrition, biology, math and business.
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A registered dietitian holds a minimum of a bachelors degree. This four year college degree must comply with the standards approved by the American Dietetic Associations Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework will include nutrition, food service management and sociology.
Supervised Practice Program
After completion of the bachelors program, the applicant must complete an internship of 1200 hours in a supervised practice program at an approved work site, such as public health, community or clinical settings. If this is done by working 40 hours per week, the training will be 7 1/2 months long. Some bachelor programs provide concurrent internships in their programs.
After completion of the bachelors degree and the internship, the dietitian is eligible to sit for the registration examination. Materials from the graduating school are mailed to the Commission on Dietetic Registration which will then send the dietitian a Authorization to Test letter. The applicant has up to one year from the date of this letter to take the exam.
Registered dietitians must also complete continuing education units every year in order to maintain their registrations. Typically this includes 15 hours per year and is reportable every five years.