Can I Become a Registered Dietitian Through Online Courses?
Dietitians oversee the preparation of food, develop diets for patients and determine the caloric intake a person must have to maintain optimal health. Those who have earned their registered dietitian credentials from the American Dietetic Association have passed a written examination after completing a bachelor's degree program and an internship. Online courses can prepare you to meet these criteria.
Online Programs for Registered Dietitians
Distance learning options are available for registered dieticians. An online dietitian program often mirrors an on-campus program. Some schools offer bachelor's degrees in dietetics that allow students to complete online coursework while they fulfill on-site internship requirements. These are often called coordinated dietetics programs.
Prerequisites for online courses include organic chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, microbiology and statistics. Core dietetics coursework may discuss nutritional needs at various life stages or the role culture plays in dietary practices. Other course topics may include food science, nutrition education or nutritional assessment.
Other schools offer didactic dietetics programs that allow students to transfer to a separate internship program after graduating. These 10- or 12-month internship programs may also be available in a distance learning format. Students with limited dietitian training programs in their area can enroll in a school's distance internship program while completing fieldwork at local hospitals or schools.
Internships can require up to 32 hours of job experience per week. Students may plan menus, develop a budget or monitor meal preparation for public schools, community food pantries or hospitals. Students enrolled in a coordinated bachelor's degree program meet these requirements on a semester-by-semester basis or after completing program coursework.
General Education Requirements
A registered dietitian must earn a bachelor's degree and complete an internship program approved by the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). He or she must then pass CDR's national Registration Examination for Dietitians.
Continuing Education Options
Students must be credentialed as ADA-registered dietitians to enter graduate degree programs. However, some undergraduate internship programs may allow students to complete coursework toward a graduate certificate or master's degree in dietetics. These graduate-level programs teach advanced topics in medical nutrition and disease, macronutrients and nutritional status assessment.
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