Careers in Pharmacy and Dietetics
The lecture from our registered dietician touched on the point that a dietician and a nutritionist are very different in terms of their training and educational background. More specifically anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, there is no formal license or standard certification process for this designation. However, as you now know, the path to become a registered dietician is much more complicated and comes with extensive educational, training and licensure/certification requirements. Most people are surprised to find this out!
I'd like you to reflect on the difference and address each of the following questions: (a) Did this information surprise you or did you already know the difference between the two designations? (b) Have you or someone close to you had any personal experience with a nutritionist that you now question? (c) Will you look more closely at what kind of professional endorses the supplements, vitamins, etc. that you consider taking? Feel free to post any other thoughts related to this topic. Responses may be only one paragraph, but no more than two.
After posting your response, read your peers' thoughts and reply to at least one classmate.
Be sure to review requirements for discussion board posts from the syllabus. Don't forget to review the rubric prior to writing your post.
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Slide 1 (00:16)
My name is Alex and I have a master's in Public Health. R.E. is up there instead of R.D.
R.D. is normally the status for a registered dietician. I will actually be taking the dietetic R.D.
exam, which is the final step of the process on Monday. So, I've accomplished all of the
necessary background and that's just what they…
Slide 2 (00:40)
They don't let us say R.D. soon to be, but you're supposed to say R.E. – Registration
Eligible. So, that's that.
Slide 3 (00:47)
A little bit of my background. I got my bachelor's in genetics at University of California,
Slide 4 (00:54)
I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do besides something in sciences and that's
what I ended up with. I took a couple of years off after that, sort of still trying to figure out what
I wanted to do because I didn't want to pay for another degree without really knowing what I
wanted to have a profession in.
Slide 5 (01:12)
I applied to the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I actually have a dual
Slide 6 (01:19)
Both of them MPH's, but one of them is in human nutrition dietetics and then one of them
is in health behavior/health education. I actually stayed… That's a two year program that I stayed
for a third year to get the dual degree in.
Slide 7 (01:31)
Then following that I pre-selected for my internship, which I'll go through later in the
Slide 8 (01:39)
I did my internship at the University of Michigan Health System and the School of Public
Slide 9 (01:45)
I just got hired and started about a month ago here. My official title is Health Promotion
Slide 10 (01:51)
But, I'm focused on healthy eating and physical activity promotion on campus. I also
hope to be doing a little bit more consultation as a dietician in the future. So, how do you become
Slide 11 (02:04)
Registered dieticians are food and nutrition experts. They have to meet certain criteria in
order to be official R.D.'s. They have to complete a bachelor's degree and that bachelor's degree
can be in anything. As you can see on the bottom of this slide, you can have it in economic,
business, any science, physiology, dance, music – whatever you want.
Slide 12 (02:29)
But, there are required courses that would probably not be in a lot of those majors and so
you sort of have to do that outside of another bachelor's degree if you want to be eligible to
become a dietician. A lot of campuses do have nutrition bachelor's degrees. Actually, I looked it
up. There's about 220 campuses in the nation that offer a bachelor's in nutrition. So, that's sort of
ideally what you'd want to do because you can go directly from a bachelor’s in nutrition to doing
the dietetic internship and then taking the exam. I didn't take that course which sort of added a
little bit of time but also got me another degree. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, what
used to be called the ADA, is in charge of sort of choosing their requirements for programs that
are eligible to let you eventually take the exam.
Slide 13 (03:34)
The program is called ASCEND and those are the people who basically decide whether
or not the program is decent enough.
Slide 14 (03:41)
So, there are programs that are offered that are not ASCEND certified. They may require
you to take extra courses or… I'm not exactly sure how complicated it is, but I know that it's more
complicated if you try to become a dietician at a not ASCEND certified school.
Slide 15 (04:01)
So, these are the classes that you have to take to be eligible to go into a program like I did
as a masters.
Slide 16 (04:11)
These are the classes that you would have to take along with your bachelors if they
weren't included. They're basic science courses with the addition of something like anatomy and
physiology, which may not be in a regular biology degree program. For the most part, I think of
my class of twenty nutrition students, I think there was only about three students who had not
already completed all these requirements before they started the program. You can get
exceptions with some programs to take one or two of these courses while you are doing your
master's program. Although, I think those are usually things like the sociology, anthropology,
psychology, anatomy, things at the bottom as opposed to… You need to have the basic calculus
and organic chemistry because those are integral in knowing nutritional sciences.
Slide 17 (05:11)
So, after you have that bachelor's degree you have to do an internship. The internship is
anywhere from six to twelve months depending on whether or not it's a full-time program or a
Slide 18 (05:27)
Usually, the goal is or the required number of hours for that program is 1200. So, it's sort
of… Different programs have different requirements that get you to that 1200 goal. The
internships, depending on where you go, vary drastically. The internship that I did was sort of
community focused, so it was a lot more working at places at food banks and Meals on Wheels,
as well as a little bit of working in hospitals. You also have programs that are primarily clinical
work in a hospital or food service where you're working in a cafeteria setting. But, that really
depends on which program you apply for. Then finally, upon finishing that internship, you need
to pass a national examination.
Slide 19 (06:26)
And that is a 2 1/2 hour computerized exam, similar to a lot of tests you take these days:
GREs and I don't know what the SATs are doing these days.
Slide 20 (06:45)
But, I can't tell you too much about that because I haven't taken it yet. But, I've heard that
the sooner after you finish your internship you take it the better. So, that is a good question. So,
one thing that I hear commonly from people who have taken the test is that they studied so many
things and they only got asked questions primarily about 20% of what they studied. That can
cover anything from biochemistry, organic chemistry, food service questions asking you what
temperature does this need to be cooked to. It can ask you things about… Let's see what else…
Like, the processes of a business and how you assess need in a community. Unfortunately or
fortunately, dietetics covers a lot of different areas of employment and so, I believe there are
something like 8-odd sort of specialty areas that you sort of have to know about. It's… I believe
it's sort of luck of the draw on sort of what you get on the test. Oh yeah… And the final thing I
that, once you take the exam you have to continue taking these continuing education courses or
Slide 21 (08:26)
There are different things you can do throughout your lifetime to maintain the R.D.
Slide 22 (08:31)
Unfortunately, it's not like a lifetime membership. That can be going to conferences. That
can be reading books and writing a report and turning it into somebody. That can be going to
workshops – whatever your employer offers. It can be a lot of different things. And they really
don't want it to be a hard thing for you to continue your education. It's something that you
should… that everybody, I think, should want to do throughout their lifetime is to continue to
stay on top of the topics that they are interested in helping people with.
Slide 1 (00:00)
So, these are the programs in Florida. Unfortunately, USF is not one of them. But, getting
the bachelors – you can get it at UF, UNF, FSU or FIU. A coordinated program is a program like
what I did, where I didn't…
Slide 2 (00:17)
My bachelor's was not in nutrition and I needed to get some nutritional courses in on top
of having an internship. Which meant everything was in one school in one place and that was
good for me. Yeah, so basically you get a graduate degree as well as fulfilling the requirements
for the R.D. exam. There are only about 54 programs in the country right now that are
coordinated programs. They do tend to be a little bit more challenging to get into and
competitive. Mainly because you have a lot of people going back and changing their degree like
I did, where they didn't know they really wanted to go into nutrition but now they're deciding
that. With the economy being as it's been, people are considering that a lot more. Yeah. So, there
are two places in Florida, FIU and Keiser that have those coordinated programs.
Slide 3 (01:23)
So, this is a snapshot of the AND website.
Slide 4 (01:29)
This is where you can see what schools have each of these programs. So basically you
can click on this coordinated program: the dietetic program, dietetic internship, and didactic is a
different thing. You can search through by state and it'll give you all the programs and sort of the
requirements for applications for that. I encourage you to check out the AND website if you are
interested at all in being an R.D. because they have a lot of good resources.
Slide 5 (02:00)
So, has anyone ever heard of an R.D.N.? So, R.D.N. is relatively new. The academy has
decided that… It's essentially an optional title that they're adding to the R.D.
Slide 6 (02:18)
It doesn't require any other further education or testing.
Slide 7 (02:26)
It basically is trying to differentiate a dietitian and a nutritionist, to show all dietitians are
nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
Slide 8 (02:33)
Unfortunately there tends to be some sort of bad feelings sometimes between dieticians
and nutritionists. Essentially anybody can call themselves a nutritionist. There's no required
degree or certification. It's basically saying somebody who has some knowledge about nutrition.
I think that the two get confused a lot of the times. Not to say that nutritionists may not be as
knowledgeable about nutrition. They may very well be. But, the R.D. sort of gives you a promise
that that person has gone through a program that is certified and that they know everything that
they should know.
Slide 9 (03:23)
So, how much do we make? Not too much. Unfortunately, public health is not the place
to go if you want to be making big bucks. But, the average annual or mean annual wage for a
dietitian in 2012 was $56,000, lowest 10% earned about $34,000 and the highest about $76,000
or $78,000. The highest paying dietitian jobs tend to be in out-patient care or private
practice/private care services were basically you’re going to everybody's houses and in helping
them with their daily tasks
Slide 10: (04:05)
But the highest number of jobs is usually in hospitals and nursing homes.
Slide 11 (04:11)
This is actually increasing as the baby boomers get a little older. The demand is
increasing there. Eleven percent of dietitians are self-employed.
Slide 12 (04:22)
Not too many. It's hard to be self-employed in anything. But, yeah… So, 11% and then
20% work part-time. Yeah… I have to put that thing at the bottom. Basically, things vary from
country to region to state, etc.
Slide 13 (04:42)
So, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitian jobs are projected to grow by
21% in the next 10 years which is great for us. That means more jobs and there's sort of more of
an emphasis on preventative health, which is one thing that a lot of dietitians do or health
Slide 14 (05:00)
Hospital employment is not really supposed to change. But like I said, nursing home,
residential care and sort of smaller clinics will probably see a lot more people.
Slide 15 (05:14)
Also, with the Affordable Care Act and the treat and reduce obesity act that was in 2013,
we're expecting to see a lot more preventative care covered which means more jobs for dieticians
Slide 16 (05:30)
So, these are the potential places that dietitians can work. It's pretty expansive. In a
hospital setting you're going to be working with…
Slide 17 (05:42)
When I work with patients accessing their nutritional statuses, which can be a big
challenge… I, myself, don't really prefer the clinical setting. I like the education components as
opposed to here's what you need to eat and not eat and you may not make it through the night if
you don't. I don't like that. So, if you like that sort of fast-paced stuff, hospitals can help you with
that. Sports nutrition… You can work for a professional sports team, something like that. Those
jobs are sort of few and far between. You can also… At bigger high schools and colleges work as
a sports nutritionists.
Wellness programs, that's what I'm doing. Increasingly, more and more companies are
offering wellness programs for their employees as well as universities expanding their wellness
programs for their students because as I hope most of you know, we need to be focusing on
children and younger people to keep them from being unhealthy as opposed to focusing too
much on the people who are already unhealthy. You have to balance it out. I'm not telling you to
not care about your parents, but really, the young ones are our future. So, we have to work in the
Private practice, as I said, 11% of dieticians do that. They have it in their home or they
have… Depending on where they live, they can an office of their own. It just requires a lot more
start-up costs. Community public health settings, things like the Health Department WIC which
is Women, Infants and Children. You can work for… I'm blanking on the food… Anybody else
know what foodstamps is now called? SNAP. You could work for SNAP, which is the food
assistant program. Things like that. Those are very high-volume jobs. You're going to see a lot of
people. Again, you're probably not going to make big bucks. But, if you really see the benefit of
helping large populations, that's where you want to do it.
Universities… Our other dietitian that works with the wellness education also works in
student health services as a dietitian. If you want to see her… Just a little plug. You're not going
to pay more than $10 ever and you can go schedule a session in the student health. I would just
call and setup an appointment. Research… There are some dietitians who choose to do research,
usually community-based research as opposed to in the lab. But, there's definitely nutritional
sciences that people can go in. I don't know a lot of registered dieticians who want to do
laboratory research because you don't really cross in terms of what you're studying. It’s pretty
Food service – a lot of food service environments, especially in hospitals have a dietitian
there to help in meal creation and production. A lot of dietitians end up being food service
managers for larger facilities. And then in the food industry… Boo… Hiss… Even though the
food industry may be considered the villain a lot of the time, at least in the nutrition field, there
are dietitians that work for big food companies and try to help market healthier products and sort
of change some ideas in terms of some of the food that's offered.
Slide 1 (00:00)
There's also specialty certifications that you can get after you get your R.D. if you have a
specific focus if you really like working with kids (pediatric), sports, old people (gerontological
nutrition), kidneys (renal nutrition) and then oncology…
Slide 2 (00:20)
Actually, oncology nutrition is the newest one added to this list. So, cancer nutrition is
becoming an expanding field of research.
Slide 3 (00:30)
So, a day in the life of what I do…
Slide 4 (00:37)
So, counseling, one-on-one nutrition questions, helping people figure out meal plans,
exercise plans, behavioral change, what they can take out of their kitchen, what they need to put
into their kitchen, how to cook things – that's all of what happens in one-on-one sessions.
Slide 5 (01:00)
Presentations like this and also presentations in the dorms, presentations at student
groups, basically the topics can range to really whatever people are interested in learning in
terms of nutrition and wellness in general.