Yesterday we talked about accredited programs that can lead you down the right path to becoming a dietitian. Of course, there's more to becoming a RDN or RD than completing semesters of chemistry and nutritional science classes.
Today we'll discuss the second and third steps: dietetic internships and the registration exam.
Step 2: Dietetic Internship (DI)
You may be thinking: I've spent countless hours studying biochemistry, microbiology, and food science—can I become a RDN or RD now?
No, it's only beginning! Whether you're in a DPD or CPD program, you need to complete a 1200 hour DI to be eligible for the exam. DIs usually last from 6 to 12 months (depending on when you complete your 1200 hours) and provide supervised field experience for prospective dietitians. They're the best way for future RDNs to put their education into practice.
Do DIs need to be accredited too?
Yes! Just like your coursework, your dietetic internship must be accredited by ACEND.
Check out the Academy's website to find accredited internships in each state!
Step 3: The Registration Exam
All right, I have completed my coursework and 1200 hour internship—this is surely enough to make me a RDN or RD, right?
No, but you're so close! The last step to becoming an RDN or RD is passing the registration exam. It's administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration(CDR). Passing this exam means you are credentialed as an RDN or RD.
Remember that student members of the Academy have access to free resources to help prepare for the exam, so take advantage of that as much as you can.
Okay, so I have completed my course work, done my internship, and passed the exam—I am an RDN now!
Yes, and no! You're credentialed, but need to complete continuing education requirements throughout your career to maintain your RDN or RD status. This just ensures that you're providing the best care possible for your patients!
Becoming an RDN or RD seems like a long and stressful process but it's worth it in the end. Stay tuned tomorrow for great tools that can help keep you organized through your school work and internship!