The requirements for which individuals can call themselves 'dietitians' or 'nutritionists' and what each can do vary widely by state. Check out this map from the Center for Nutrition Advocacy to learn more.
Certification vs Licensure for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Why is state licensure so important? There are two different levels of protection of your credentials:
Certification of dietitian: Certification only protects the title “dietitian.” The services we render as RDNs can thus be given by individuals who are unqualified to practice based on the loosely-worded certification requirement; they just can't call themselves dietitians.
- Licensure of dietitian: According to documentation on the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (NYSAND) website, licensure takes protection of our work one step further, and “…protects the title and scope of practice for the profession of dietetics.”
Licensing protects our titles and our scope of practice – and prohibits individuals who are not properly trained from practicing and potentially providing incorrect or harmful information or guidance to their clients.
This chart from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gives you a look at whether your state provides certification or licensure.
Fortunately, most states provide licensure for RDNs and CNSs.
Action Alert: Licensure in New York for RDNs and CNSs
In NY, however, where Healthy Bytes is headquartered, the protection is limited to certification at this time. But here's to hoping that this changes! We're excited to see an Action Alert from NYSAND dated June 13th, 2017, noting: “After many years of hard work by the licensure taskforce, NYSAND is pleased to announce that we have a bill to license the practice of dietetics and nutrition that was developed in collaboration with the American Nutrition Association.” You can read the full bill, S02231A, on the New York State Assembly website.
If you’re a New York RDN or CNS and feel as strongly as we do about licensure, please take action by June 21st, 2017 and contact your senator. Call 518.455.2800 and ask to be transferred to your Senator.
If you’re not located in NY and are interested in more information about licensure in your state, consult your state’s Board of Dietetic Practice for specific information on applying for licensure and/or certification to work as an RDN.
Go, New York, go!
Author Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN, of KUcumber Nutrition Communications, is an advisor to Healthy Bytes.