My father-in-law teases me for being a dietitian, saying things like “Did you take all the candy bars away from the kids today?” Little does he know about the day-to-day job of a dietitian.
I’m sure you’ve heard us called many things — “nutritionist,” “dietary” or even “nutritionalist.” To explain the difference, almost anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” in the state of Wisconsin. But a registered dietitian is the only nutrition professional employed by hospitals, nursing homes, schools and government organizations.
A registered dietitian is a professional who has a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition, has completed a dietetic internship (similar to how medical students complete rotations), and has passed a national exam (similar to how nurses have to pass their board exams).
That depends — dietitians are everywhere! Sometimes they work in schools, helping to improve school lunches in line with USDA recommendations. Sometimes they work in nursing homes, prescribing supplements and other diets to keep the elderly healthy. Sometimes they work in the community — at a community clinic educating patients on healthy lifestyle; at your local gym helping athletes reach peak performance; or at your supermarket helping customers navigate the healthiest parts of the store.
At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we have almost 30 dietitians on staff working in over 40 specialty areas. We’re a key part of the medical team. Many times good nutrition is what helps kids leave the hospital early or avoid certain medications.
Here are some snapshots of how we care for kids:
A dietitian can perform many tasks, and at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin our staff is very skilled in the specialty areas we treat. Always keep your eye out for the “RD” or “RDN” credential behind someone’s name — you’ll be getting the best information for your time and money.