What is a Registered Dietitian?
The title "dietitian" is legally protected in each province so that only qualified practitioners who have met specific education and practice requirements can use this title. The term “registered” dietitian refers to a person who is registered with the provincial regulatory body in the province where he or she is working. The professional designation RD, RDN, PDt or RDt (or the French equivalent Dt.P.) indicates a Registered Dietitian.
Why Become a Registered Dietitian?
Dietitians are regulated health professionals who work within health promotion, disease prevention and treatment programs. Dietitians work in a variety of settings such as the community where prevention is key, hospitals or long term care facilities where treatment and/or prevention is the goal, or food service where providing safe, healthy food choices is the primary goal. Often these areas overlap, so it is important to gain experience in all areas. In order to work as a professional within these areas, one must be a Registered Dietitian. Nutritionists and food service supervisors also work in these areas, but report to a Registered Dietitian, Clinical Manager or a Director of Food and Nutrition Services.
Dietitians also work in other areas. The food industry, pharmaceutical companies, and government hire dietitians to assist with nutrition promotion, assessment or consultation. Some dietitians continue their education at the graduate level in universities to obtain a Masters or Doctorate degree. The graduate degree enables the dietitian to become a director of an internship program, teach at universities or engage in research related to food, nutrition and/or education.
The yearly income for a dietitian varies. Recently advertised positions range from $40,000 to $75,000 yearly.
How Do I Become a Registered Dietitian?
To become a dietitian, you must graduate from an undergraduate program accredited by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP), and then complete one of the approved Dietetic Internship Programs or specific Masters/practicum programs across the country. This dietetic education program in the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba is an accredited program recognized by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP) and prepares students for eligibility for registration with a provincial dietetics regulatory body. After success completion of the internship program, the final steps are to pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (CDRE) and apply to the provincial regulatory body for registered dietitian status. For more information, check out: www.dieticians.ca/Become-a-Dietitian.aspx
Purpose of Dietetic Internship Programs
“The internship program provides supervised practical learning experiences which enables students to apply their academic knowledge gained in university in practice based settings required to be a competent entry-level dietician.
A dietetic internship provides practical experience that is necessary for you to qualify as a Registered Dietitian. Programs are 35-40 weeks long and tend to have 2-3 week rotations. The rotations will include various client populations and learning experiences (e.g., general medicine, diabetes education, pediatric and geriatric care, community nutrition, menu planning, budgeting, quality improvement, and human resource management). In each clinical area you will learn to provide nutritional care (assess, plan and evaluate) to specific groups of patients/clients.
For more information visit the DC (www.dietitians.ca) and PDEP (www.pdep.ca) websites.
Canadian Dietetic Internship Programs
All dietetic internships within Canada are called comprehensive programs; they have balanced experiences in administrative, clinical, and community dietetics. The internship is a formalized learning program in dietetics that follows an undergraduate degree such as a Bachelor of Science (Human Nutritional Sciences). If three years pass after graduation from the undergraduate degree, one three credit hour course must be taken prior to application to internships. The internship varies in length depending on the host institution, but is usually 40 to 50 weeks long and tend to have 2-3 week rotations. Other program options are dietetic internships that are integrated with an undergraduate or graduate degree.
Preparing for a Dietetic Internship
Apply to an undergraduate nutrition program accredited by PDEP. PDEP developed the national validated Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice (ICDEP) and the Accreditation Standards for Dietetic Education Programs in Canada, PDEP reviews.
Achieve a grade point average of 3.0 or above in the last 60 credit hours. Some programs examine the Degree GPA such as the Manitoba Partnership Dietetic Education Program (MPP). Ensure required courses are taken prior to a dietetic internship.
Learn more about dietetics by joining Dietitians of Canada as a student member. Gain experience related to dietetics. It does not matter if the experience is paid or volunteered. What counts are the skills you develop and your knowledge of the dietetics profession. Opportunities exist in hospitals, long-term care facilities, food service, industry or the community. Experience in delivering nutrition education is often gained through organizations such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, Canadian Diabetes Association, Osteoporosis Society of Manitoba, Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Programming and others. Remember the importance of quality experiences versus quantity.
Build good working relationships with employers, volunteer supervisors, dietitians and professors. These people are helpful when you require confidential reports for application to dietetic internship programs.
Types of Dietetic Internship Programs
Dietetic internship programs are usually administered by health care organizations. Entry to internship programs is competitive. Students at the University of Manitoba have two options regarding a Dietetic Internship Program:
1) Pre-selection with the Manitoba Partnership Dietetic Education Program. This option is available to students admitted to Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba in September 2007 or later. An application package for students eligible for pre-selection can be downloaded. MPP will accept 20 students per year by the Pre-Selection process. Students choosing this application route will submit their applications to MPP in the fall every year. This year the application is due October 28, 2016.
Click here for the Manitoba Partnership Dietetic Education Program Pre-selection Application Guide & Fillable Form
Click here for the MPP Pre-Selected Internship FAQ page.
2) Application to a post-graduate dietetic internship program (Traditional Route). This process involves completing application forms from Dietitians of Canada and submitting them to Internship Programs by January 20, 2017 (noon Eastern Time) in the final year of your undergraduate program. You can apply up to 3 programs offered anywhere in Canada. The Manitoba Partnership Program offers two post graduate dietetic internship positions annually.
Click here to go to the Traditional Route Internship Handbook
Click here for the 2017 DC Internship Application Package
- Click here for information from Dietitians of Canada
Why should you join Dietitians of Canada as a dietetics student? To become a student member of Dietitians of Canada click here for more information.
- If you are an International student graduate from Human Nutritional Sciences and are interested in applying for an internship, click here and here for more information.
- Click here for information from the College of Dietitians of Manitoba
- College of Dietitians of Manitoba
36-1313 Border St.
Winnipeg, MB, R3H 0X4
For more information or if you have a question about applying for an Internship, please send us an email.