A common question I get asked is what is the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist. Often you will hear these terms being used interchangeably but there are some differences.
1). A dietitian is a health care professional who has completed a Bachelors degree specializing in food and nutrition followed by a comprehensive internship completed in a hospital, community, and food service setting followed by a national board exam.
2). The title ” Registered Dietitian”, ” Professional Dietitian”, and “Dietitian” are protected by law through provincial legislation.
3). Dietitians who have met the national standards for education and training and are members of a provincial regulatory body and use the term RD, RDN, PDt, or RDt.
4). Dietitians are members of a provincially regulated college and are held accountable for their conduct and care provided.
5). Dietitians can be found in a variety of settings such as hospitals, community, physician office, wellness centers, long term care facilities, private practice, media, and research.
6). Nutritionist is not protected in many provinces. People with different education and training may call themselves a “Nutritionist”. This does not mean that they don’t have a wealth of knowledge in nutrition. Some dietitians do use the term “Nutritionist”.
Where to find a dietitian?
If you are looking for a dietitian that works in private practice you can go to www.dietitiansofcanada.ca/find and find a wide variety of dietitians that specialize in allergies, sports nutrition, weight loss, celiac disease and so on. Before hiring a dietitian check their credentials and make sure their counseling style is what you are looking for.
Some extended health care plans do provide coverage for private practice dietitians. Private practice dietitians set their own rates.
If you live in British Columbia you can access a registered dietitian for free through Health Link BC by dialing 811 Monday through Friday. For more information go to www.healthlinkbc.ca
Source: Dietitians of Canada