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Becoming a Registered Dietitian
What is a Registered Dietitian?
Dietitians are trustworthy and credible sources of nutrition knowledge and advice. Training to become a dietitian typically involves a four-year undergraduate degree followed by additional training through a dietetic practicum program.
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 they are working. The professional designations RD, RDN, PDt or RDt (or the French equivalent Dt.P.) indicate a Registered Dietitian. In Manitoba, dietitians are registered through the College of Dietitians of Manitoba (CDM).
Why become a Registered Dietitian?
Dietitians are regulated health professionals who work in diverse jobs, primarily within health promotion, disease prevention and treatment programs. Dietitians work in settings such as: community clinics and public health agencies where disease prevention is key; hospitals or long-term care facilities where treatment and rehabilitation are goals; and food service where they provide safe, nutritious food choices. To work as a nutrition professional within these areas, one must be a Registered Dietitian.
Dietitians also work in other areas. The food industry, pharmaceutical companies, and government departments employ dietitians to work in nutrition promotion and marketing; nutritional health monitoring; and policy development. 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 teach at colleges and universities, engage in research related to food and nutrition, or become a director of a practicum program.
Some dietitians work in their own private practice where they counsel individuals and groups and/or consult to business and other organizations.
How do I become a Registered Dietitian?
To become a Registered Dietitian, you must graduate from an accredited undergraduate program, then complete one of the approved Canadian Dietetic Practicum programs (see below) or combined Masters/Practicum program. The final steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian are to pass the national Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (CDRE) and apply to the provincial regulatory body where you will be practicing as a Registered Dietitian.
Dietetics Preparation in Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba
The undergraduate Human Nutritional Sciences program (Nutrition Option-Dietetics Preparation) in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences is an accredited program that allows eligible students to apply for a post-degree Dietetic Practicum program (see below). Information on the HNS program is available here.
Students taking the Nutrition Option also complete pre-professional academic requirements to apply for other programs, such as medicine, law, and dentistry.
International students wishing to become a dietitian in Canada can find information at these links:
A Dietetic Practicum program is the training received after completing an undergraduate program and provides the experience necessary to qualify as a Registered Dietitian. The Practicum consists of supervised practical learning within the scope of nutrition care. This enables students to apply the knowledge gained during their undergraduate program in practice-based settings. Practicum placements typically occur in institutional (clinic, hospital, long-term care), business/industry and community settings. Examples of learning experiences include general medicine, diabetes education, pediatric and geriatric care, community and public health nutrition, food literacy education, menu planning, cost-management, quality improvement, and human resource management.
Practicum programs vary in length. Some are stand-alone, and some are combined with graduate-level (Masters) training.
Applying for Dietetic Practicum programs in Canada
A list Dietetic Practicum programs across Canada is available on the Accreditation Canada website and PDEP website. Programs differ in their application procedures and requirements, therefore it is recommended to visit each program website to determine eligibility.
Entry into a Dietetic Practicum program is competitive. Students typically apply in the last year of their undergraduate program, or up to three years post-graduation. It is strongly recommended that students seek advice from student advising in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences on your undergraduate program if you are interested in pursuing a Dietetic Practicum (contact email@example.com).
Gaining experience related to food, nutrition, and dietetics through both paid and/or volunteer positions can help your chances of securing a Practicum placement. Opportunities exist in hospitals, long-term care facilities, food service, industry, or community-based organizations. Examples include the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, Diabetes Canada, Osteoporosis Society of Manitoba, Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month and many others. Build good professional working relationships with employers, volunteer supervisors, dietitians and professors. These people are helpful when you require confidential reference reports for application to Dietetic Practicum programs.
For more information on applying for a post-degree practicum, a slide presentation is available here.
Professional Dietetic Organizations
Dietitians of Canada is the national professional organization for dietitians. More information on DC is available here. To learn more about the dietetics profession, join Dietitians of Canada as a student member (more information here).
College of Dietitians of Manitoba is the provincial regulatory body for dietetics in Manitoba (more information here).
Food and Human Nutritional Sciences general office
Room 209 Human Ecology Building
35 Chancellors Circle
University of Manitoba (Fort Garry campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2