Don’t just believe what you hear or read about nutrition; first check the source.
The term “Dietitian” is protected by law to ensure that only those who have met national educational and training standards for the Dietetic Profession in Canada can use the title.
The Registered Dietitian’s Code of Ethics, Professional Misconduct Regulation, Competency Statements and Standards of Practice establish a level of practice that ensures patient safety and prohibits RDs from undertaking activities for which they are not qualified. Registered Dietitians practice under the Regulated Health Professions Act ensuring that the eduction, training, and advice they provide meets Provincial Standards. Dietitians also
Non-regulated individuals are not accountable to the public, or the client, in the same manner. The advice they provide doesn’t have to meet any Provincial or Regulatory Standards nor is the education accredited. If a client has a grievance against a person giving unregulated nutrition advice, there’s little recourse unlike working with a dietitian who is accountable to the public under the College of Dietitians of Ontario whose primarily role is to protect the public from unscrupulous and potentially unsafe advice.
Registered Dietitians are health professionals with a degree specializing in food science and nutrition from a Dietitians of Canada (DC) accredited university program. The approved programs include courses in:
- human nutrition and food science
- clinical nutrition
- nutritional biochemistry
- biological and physical sciences
- social sciences
- management and food service
- statistics and research methods
- professional practice and ethics
After meeting academic requirements, a dietetic internship in clinical nutrition or equivalent practicum experience is required. Completing a Master’s or Doctoral degree which requires the application of knowledge and demonstration of skills necessary to practice as a dietitian is an alternative route.
To be able to practice as a Dietitian, one needs to be registered with the provincial regulatory body in that province. The title “Dietitian” is legally protected in each province so that only qualified practitioners who have met education qualifications can use that title. Look for the professional designation “RD, RDN, PDt or RDt (or the French equivalent Dt.P.).
In addition to meeting the above academic and practicum experience requirements, most provinces require successful completion of an examination in order to become registered.
Members of Dietitians of Canada also adhere to a Code of Ethics and the Professional Standards for Dietitians in Canada that ensures your right to safe, reliable advice.
Doug Cook is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist working in private practice in Toronto and as a nutritional consultant.