RDN Credential - Frequently Asked Questions

Every Registered Dietitian Is a Nutritionist, but Not Every Nutritionist Is a Registered Dietitian!

To access the "Dietitian, Dietician or Nutritionist?" article, click here.  

What is the new optional RDN* credential?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Board of Directors and the Commission on Dietetic Registration have approved the optional use of the credential “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN)* by registered dietitians (RD)*.
Will the new optional RDN* credential have an effect on state licensure of RDs*?
No. Legal counsel determined that adding the optional RDN* credential will not affect licensure or other regulations. Many state licensure/certification laws already reference the term nutritionist (e.g., LDN or CDN).
Why is the Academy offering the optional Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential?
The option was established to further enhance the RD* brand and more accurately reflect to consumers who registered dietitians are and what they do. This will differentiate the rigorous credential requirements and highlight that all registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
Inclusion of the word “nutritionist” in the credential communicates a broader concept of wellness (including prevention of health conditions beyond medical nutrition therapy) as well as treatment of conditions.

This option is also consistent with the inclusion of the word “nutrition” in the Academy’s new name.
There is an increased awareness of the Academy’s role as a key organization in food and nutrition by media, government agencies, allied health organizations and consumers. For instance, the Academy has noted an increase in the number of media impressions (print, broadcast and electronic) from the Academy’s media outreach activities. Twenty billion media impressions were obtained in 2011, prior to the Academy’s name change; contrasted with 30 billion impressions during the first six months of 2012 alone.
This provides additional rationale for the incorporation of the word “nutrition” into the RD* credential resulting in the optional RDN* credential.
What member input was considered?
In 2010, the Academy began exploring the option of offering the registered dietitian nutritionist credential. It was supported by participants in the 2011 Future Connections Summit and most recently by the Council on Future Practice in its 2012 Visioning Report. The recommendation was shared and discussed in the House of Delegates at the Fall 2012 meeting. The 2013 joint meeting of the major organizational units (Commission on Dietetic Registration, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, Council on Future Practice, Education Committee, and Nutrition and Dietetics Educators and Preceptors DPG) supported moving forward.
Must RDs* use the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential?
No. The RDN* credential is offered as an option to RDs* who want to emphasize the nutrition aspect of their credential to the public and to other health practitioners.
Does the optional RDN* have a different meaning than the RD* credential?
No. The RD* and RDN* credential have identical meanings and legal trademark definitions.
When can RDs* begin to use the RDN* credential?
RDs* can start using the RDN* credential effective immediately.
How should RDs* use the new credential for signatures and materials such as business cards?
“Jane Doe, RDN*” or “Jane Doe, RD*”
How should the RDN* credential be listed after a practitioner’s name with other licensure or certification designations?
The new RDN* should be listed in the same way as RD*. The Commission on Dietetic Registration’s recommended order of listed credentials is:
  • Graduate academic degree.
  • RDN* (or RD)*
  • Specialty certifications with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (e.g., CSG, CSO, CSP, CSSD, CSR)
  • Licensure designation, other certifications (e.g., CDE, CNS). Do not modify your current licensure designation.
For example:
Jane Doe, RDN*, LD
Jane Doe, RDN*, LDN
Jane Doe, MS, RDN*, LD, CDE
Will CDR registration ID cards include both the RD* and RDN* credentials?
Yes. The registration identification card will reflect both the RD*and RDN* credentials.
Will there be an additional cost?
No. There is no additional cost for using the RDN* credential.
Will RDs* be required to meet separate recertification requirements if they choose to use the optional RDN* credential?
No. The current RD* recertification requirements apply to the RDN* credentials.
How does the new optional RDN* credential fit into the Academy’s ongoing branding and marketing efforts?
The Academy is developing a brand plan to strengthen and differentiate a respected brand.

*Please note the RDN and RD are two credential designation options for one certification program. Practitioners may choose to use one or the other.