Dietitians provide a broad range of services related to nutrition, diet and health. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, research, government health agencies and private practice. They may also collaborate with mental health professionals to screen for eating disorders and substance abuse. RDs also use their knowledge of nutrition and physiology to design meal plans, create diets and implement nutritional therapy for patients suffering from diseases and conditions such as cancer, malnutrition and obesity.
A bachelor’s degree is generally required to begin a career as a dietitian. This degree can be earned in a variety of fields, including food and nutrition sciences, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, communications and other areas of study. The time to complete a degree program varies based on the number of courses you take, whether you have taken any prior college or university coursework in the subject matter and how many credits are transferred from another institution.
Earning a Master’s Degree in Nutrition
Some students who are interested in becoming a dietitian pursue a master’s degree click here to advance their career opportunities. This type of degree often requires a two-year program and teaches you to apply research skills and critical thinking skills to a particular field. Graduates typically have a strong understanding of the scientific basis for nutrition and can choose to specialize in a certain area, such as sports nutrition or functional medicine.
Obtaining a Dietetic Internship to Be Certified
Registered dietitians (RDs) must complete an accredited supervised practice program in order to become eligible for the Commission on Dietetic Registration exam. You may complete a Dietetic Internship or a combination of undergraduate and graduate studies to fulfill this requirement.
The University of District of Columbia (UDC) offers a Didactic Program in Dietetics and a four-year, full-time Coordinated Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics Program. These programs allow you to graduate with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics and MS in Nutrition and Dietetics, plus the 1200+ supervised practice hours needed for credentialing as a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Didactic Program in Dietetics – provides didactic coursework and prepares you for a Dietetic Internship at a community agency, hospital, or health-care facility. A supervised practice experience is a requirement of the Commission on Dietetic Registration for eligibility to sit for the national registration examination.
Upon successful completion of this program, you will receive a Verification Statement and be eligible to apply for a Dietetic Internship through an ACEND-accredited program. You will complete 1200+ supervised practice hours at an accredited internship before you are eligible to sit for the national registration examination and receive your professional license as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
Graduates of this program have pursued careers as dietitians, health educators, consultants, supervisors and instructors in hospitals and wellness centers, corporate wellness programs, news media, government agencies, food-related businesses and private practice. They have also worked in health promotion, dietary education and food-related public policy roles, such as serving on boards of directors for corporations or nonprofit organizations. They are members of their local and state professional associations, advancing their careers through leadership and volunteer work.