I returned to school for my undergraduate degree when my daughter started kindergarten. Originally it was for a degree in an exercise field, since that’s what I was involved in, as a group fitness instructor and manager of a small, local health club. However, I ended up graduating with a degree in nutrition, instead.
When I decided to get a nutrition degree, it also made sense to go the full route and also become a Registered Dietitian (RD), because I realized that doing any less would provide fewer opportunities to make a difference for the people I wanted to help. Granted, this also meant committing to more time and effort, but it was worth it.
In order to become an RD, a person must first get a degree in nutrition from an approved college. Then the person must complete a 1,200 hour internship. Only after successfully completing both may the person qualify to take the national registration exam. It is then the person’s responsibility to complete continuing professional educational requirements in order to maintain registration.
Why am I talking about this? Well, today is National RD Day, and in celebration, many of us who are RDs are taking part in a ‘blogfest’ in order to educate readers on what RDs are and what they do. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post and click some of the links of other RDs through the US.
Anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’. I’ll always remember the lady I had lunch with at a functional nutrition conference one day. She said she was a nutritionist who earned her living giving out nutrition information. I asked her what qualified her for this role, and she said it was because she had been ‘reading books on nutrition for years.’ Oh great! I’d love to see an MD who has become an MD because he read a lot of books… People often feel that just because we ALL eat, anyone can be an expert on nutrition..
So what’s the big fuss all about? Why shouldn’t someone see a ‘nutritionist’, or pay their personal trainer for nutrition services, or hire a ‘nutrition’ or ‘diet’ coach who doesn’t have any education in nutrition?
There’s one simple reason, really, and that is because people without the education in nutrition can’t personalize the support and education to the clients they see. Often these people are fine for general nutrition information, but what if you are reactive to soy, but the person you are seeing has just read some great articles on soy in the last week and now believes that everyone should eat it? What if you have diabetes? In most states, unqualified people cannot give out what is known as MNT, or Medical Nutrition Therapy, but unless there is a complaint about them, if they’re not caught, nothing is done. But someone not qualified to practice nutrition in this way is just as dangerous as an MD practicing medicine who really isn’t an MD.
But what does an RD do? Many people are totally confused around this whole issue. If you have ever been in a hospital, that may be your only exposure to an RD, when they come in and give you an instruction on following a particular diet. However, dietitians work in any number of locations! Why choose an RD over a ‘nutritionist’? What if you were just diagnosed with cancer or diabetes? Who would you go to? What if you had just suffered a heart attack and would like to improve your eating habits so you don’t have another one? Who would you see? Where would you go if you just had gastric bypass? All of these are just a few examples of what you would want to see an RD for. Without a specialized education in such areas, a person can’t really address your issues and help you resolve them. In fact, these are perfect examples of how people FAIL at their attempts to take control of their lives.
When I started my first business, MEG Fitness, I provided in-home personal training and sports nutrition counseling. What made me unique was that I WAS an expert on both. As a result, I could personalize my services to meet my clients’ needs, rather than put everyone on the diet that I was following, assuming it was the best for all.
But today I no longer take fitness or nutrition clients. This is the beauty of being a dietitian! For those reading this who are considering going into dietetics, never feel you have to be ‘traditional’. In fact, my mission today is to help educate dietitians on all aspects of business, so they can more effectively compete in the market. As I am about to complete my MBA degree, my mission today is to help other health and fitness professionals make their mark on the world and enjoy entrepreneurial success. I help the public understand the value of using an RD when they need help with a nutrition-related issue, and I help trainers understand how using an RD can help enhance their businesses.
In conclusion, no matter who you are, check out the links below, and learn how you can use the services, and expertise, of an RD!
Beyond Prenatals – Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Annette Colby – No More Diets! A Registered Dietitian Shares 9 Secrets to Real and Lasting Weight Loss
Ashley Colpaart – Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Cheryl Harris – Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Marilyn Jess – National Registered Dietitian Day–RD Blogfest
Julie Lanford – Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Renata Mangrum – What I’m doing as I grow up…
Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen – Family Nutrition … It’s our “Beat”
Jill Nussinow – The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through
Wendy Jo Petersen – March 11 is our day to shine!
Rebecca Scritchfield – Big Tips from a “Big Loser”
Anthony Sepe – RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
Kathy Shattler – RD Showcase for Nutri-Care Consultation
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County – Nutrition Know How – Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey – Dietitians–Can’t Do PCOS Without Them!
Monika Woolsey – In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro – My life as a Registered Dietitian
Sharon Salomon – http://diaryofadietingdietitian.blogspot.com/2009/03/celebrating-national-registered_10.html