Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists Specializations and Certifications: Finding Your Niche

I recently answered one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive: "How do I become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN)?" Today, we are discussing what happens after you pass the RD exam. Many students and dietetic interns are interested in becoming experts in the field of nutrition. Today, we are discussing "How do I find my nutrition niche?"

After the RD Exam: Specialization
After you become a registered dietitian, you can earn specialization credentials and complete further education. I look at these credentials as continuing your education, growing your knowledge of nutrition, and finding your niche.

Specialization is not necessary to practice in an area, but it does help further your education in the field of nutrition and dietetics. After you practice for approximately 2 years or 2,000 hours, you are eligible to take a specialty nutrition exam. There are five specialty nutrition exams available through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). They are:
  • Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition or CSG
  • Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics or CSSD
  • Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition or CSP
  • Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition or CSR
  • Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition or CSO
You can also receive other advance certifications from other accrediting agencies. For example, you can earn
CDR also offers two certifications:
The adult certification for weight management has two parts. There is level I training and level II training. I completed the Certification of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management, since I am a pediatric dietitian. It was helpful for learning more skills related to weight management. I enjoyed the speakers at the conference. I learned a lot studying the exam review material and at the conference, especially about bariatric surgery options for children <18 years old and reflective listening skills. I encourage you to learn more about this certification if you work with weight management patients.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) also recognizes fellows in nutrition.

To apply for this fellowship, a RD must be in good standing with the AND, be a member of the AND for at least 5 years, and have 5 cumulative years of full-time or part-time employment in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

Why should I consider earning a certification or specialization?

Reason #1: Find Your Niche
I know you've completed a lot of school to become a registered dietitian. You earned your undergraduate degree, applied and completed your internship, and completed your Master's degree. You studied for and passed your RD exam. And, now I'm encouraging you to complete more exams. Yes, I am asking you to consider finding your niche. Where do you fit? What are you good at? What area of nutrition do you practice in? What do you want to learn more about? What area of nutrition do you want to become the expert in?

Reason #2: Continuing Education & Licensure
If you are a dietitian, you are required to complete continuing education units (CEUs). To maintain your RD licensure, you must complete 75 CEUs every five years. If you earn a board certification in nutrition (CSP, CSR, CSG, CSSD, or CSO), those certifications provide 75 CEUs.

The LD (licensed dietitian) licensure is the state licensure. It is not required for all practitioners, but most hospital or clinical dietitians are required to have this licensure in every state they practice nutrition. To continue to hold your LD licensure, you have different CEU requirements in each state. Check with your state licensure board for individual state LD requirements.

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Denon Stacy, MS, RD, CSP, LD

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