Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five Things You Should Know About Becoming a RD

I had the pleasure of meeting with an undergraduate nutrition student, aka a RD to be. I love teaching and mentoring! I wish I could sit down with each of you to hear about your journey and help you navigate life as a RD. This was a great opportunity for me to remember what it was like to be a student pursuing an unknown career. 

Do you remember what it's like to be a student? I remember putting a lot of work and effort into studying and preparing to be a RD. I also wondered if my career choice would be a good fit for me. So, here are some of the questions she asked me about being a RD. I thought you might have some of the same questions too.

What kind of Dietetic Internship should I pursue?
There are many different types of dietetic internships. My advice is to determine the top 3-5 areas of dietetics that you are interested in pursuing. Then, find an internship that has those areas. There are internships that focus on clinical (hospital) practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, or food service. All dietetic internships will have a small component of each sub-specialty of nutrition. You need all the experience and knowledge to prepare and pass the RD exam.
Here is even more information about applying for your dietetic internship and how to be a successful dietetic intern.

Should I obtain my Masters Degree?
Yes. I am a strong proponent for obtaining your Masters Degree. Also, a Masters Degree will be required to be eligible to take the RD exam in 2024
You can pursue different degrees that are applicable to your practice as a RD. You may choose to pursue of Masters of Science (MS) if you practice as a clinical RD or professor. You can earn a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) if you plan to open your own practice. You can earn a Masters of Arts in Counseling (MA) if you plan to do a lot of counseling with your patients. You can also earn a Masters of Public Health (MPH) if you plan to work in weight management or like the policies that can improve the public's health.

What does a typical day look like as a RD?
I will answer this question in a separate post because I have worked in a variety of areas as a RD. I am an outpatient (think doctor's office) RD, an adjunct professor, a consultant (think freelance) RD, and I have been a clinical (hospital) RD. My days looked a little different with each of my roles as a RD.

Other RDtips:

  • Pursue volunteer experiences.
    • You get to learn more about being a RD. Find out what fits you best and what areas are not a good fit.
  • Pursue what you enjoy!
  • Never stop learning.
    • RDs and other health care professionals are required to complete Continuing Education Units (CPUs) to maintain your state and national license and credentialing. I think continual learning is impressive to those in a nutrition-related profession. Nutritional science is a relatively new science, when compared to astronomy, geology, and traditional medicine. It is vital to keep up with new information about nutrition and how it relates to your practice. So, never stop learning.

Do you want to be a RD? Stay tuned as I give you a look at the variety of areas you can work in as a RD. If you have questions, comment below or ask on Instagram or Twitter. You can also follow me on  on Pinterest

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