A dietitian (also referred to as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist – RDN) is a board-certified food and nutrition expert. RDNs are highly educated in the field of nutrition and dietetics — the science of food, nutrition, and their impact on human health. Through extensive training, these registered dietitians acquire the expertise to provide evidence-based medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling tailored to meet an individual’s needs.
To earn the credential of an RDN students must first earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with coursework including courses in biology, microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, as well as more specialized nutrition education. In addition to formal education, all dietetics students in the United States must apply for and be matched with a competitive internship program followed by a national board exam.
A nutritionist is a non-accredited title in New York, not protected by law, that can be used by anyone who has done any kind of coursework in nutrition – anything from an online weekend course to a master’s degree. They apply their interest in diet or nutrition to anything from running a food blog to working with clients.
To be certified as a nutritionist, there are two boards: The Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CNS) and/or The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNBC), both of whom require a master’s degree in nutrition or a related degree with certified practical experience before sitting for the exams. The State of New York has a licensure for CDN’s – Certified Dietitian-Nutritionists.