COLLEGE OF APPLIED & NATURAL SCIENCES
Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Louisiana Tech’s Nutrition and Dietetics degree—RD concentration serves to prepare individuals to be Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RD or RDN). Registered dietitian nutritionists work in food service management positions in hospitals and other health care facilities, school systems, universities, and private corporations. They work in clinical settings in hospitals and long term care facilities, and in out-patient settings like dialysis centers, diabetes treatment centers and cardiac rehabilitation centers. Registered dietitian nutritionists also work in community settings such as public health departments, weight loss clinics, physicians’ offices and private practice.
The route to becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist is a three-step process:
- Complete a baccalaureate degree from a didactic program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and receive an ACEND verification statement of completion;
- Complete a post-baccalaureate ACEND-accredited dietetic internship or individualized supervised practice pathway (ISPP) and receive the ACEND verification statement of completion;
- Pass the National Examination for Dietitians, administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
The RD concentration undergraduate program at Louisiana Tech University will allow you to complete the first step in that three-step process. The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995, 800-877-1600, Ext 5400, www.eatright.org/ACEND), an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. After you receive the BS degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, you will still need to apply for, be admitted to, and complete an accredited dietetic internship. Louisiana Tech University offers a Dietetic Internship (DI). However, students completing the DPD at Tech are not guaranteed admission into the DI. Though Louisiana Tech graduates are given extra points in the selection process, they must compete for a position, along with all other applicants. Only after you have completed an accredited internship or ISPP will you be eligible to take the RD exam. The RD exam requirements are set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) (https://www.cdrnet.org/). Admission to accredited dietetic internships is highly competitive. Nationwide, 63 percent of those who applied to dietetic internships in 2018 (April match) were accepted. Among Louisiana Tech graduates, the admission rate was higher with 88 percent of Tech students who applied for internships accepted in 2018.
In order to practice Nutrition and Dietetics in the state of Louisiana, as well as in most other states, you must be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD or RDN), and you must be licensed. State licensure laws protect the titles “dietitian” and “nutritionist”. You cannot call yourself a dietitian or nutritionist and you cannot practice the profession, even if you have a degree in dietetics, unless you are a registered dietitian nutritionist. The Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition (LBEDN, www.lbedn.org) licenses registered dietitians in the state.