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An RD is a registered dietitian, and an RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a new optional title. See my post about the new title here. RDs/RDNs are the food and nutrition experts, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. RDNs work in a variety of settings from clinical practice in hospitals, to public health WIC (Women, Infants & Children) offices, to menu planning consulting businesses, to school gardens.
In order to earn certification, one must complete a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition, earn and complete an accredited internship of over 900 practical hours, and pass the national exam. Many states also require licensure to practice, as does Florida. This means an extra fee ($355 every two years) if you’re already a nationally-recognized RDN as well as mandatory continuing education. Continuing education and fees are also needed to keep an RDN certification valid, which is evaluated every five years.
RDs/RDNs are always considered nutritionists; however, not all nutritionists are RDs/RDNs. Many states require licensure or certification to practice, and if so, likely regulate the use of the term “nutritionist.” Now, the new optional credential RDN includes the “nutritionist” title as well. Use of the term “nutritionist” is not legally defined; therefore, does not require any formal training for use. This means you should look into your nutritionist’s training and your state’s status on licensure. If she or he is state-licensed, they’ll probably use term “licensed dietitian/nutritionist” (LDN), which does bear legal weight.