For those that don't know about the process of becoming an Registered Dietitian (RD) here's how it goes:
1. Receive an undergraduate degree from a DPD approved program.
2. During your senior year you apply to internships- Internships are incredibly competitive. Across the country there are about 250* and each has between 2-20 spots available. There are a few thousand people applying every year so the national placement right is about 50/50.
-Because of it's level of competition you're expected to apply to multiple internships- you rank them according to where you want to go the most. The internship ranks applicant in the same manner. Through a computer matching process your either matched...or are told to "try again next year kiddo!"
The internship itself varies. But they all have supervised practice in clinical, community, and foodservice. For example mine is 10 months with a research emphasis in the first half. You do not get paid, in fact you get to pay them a lot of money. Overall it's a very intense learning experience with competencies that must be met in order to receive a certificate at the end of it.
Once you finish 10 months of supervised practice you register to take a national exam. If you pass you are a Registered Dietitian and mean something to the world of nutrition!
This is why people like Dr. Oz or bloggers that say they are "nutritionists/nutrition specialists" without a degree irritate me (Yes, I know Dr. Oz is a doctor...but his doctorate is not in nutrition). I imagine they are smart people, at least some of them, but they did not have 5+ years of education specific to nutrition. Nor do they have the training to critically analyze a research paper or health claim to determine if it's a bunch of bologna or not. I do sympathize with individuals that cannot afford to complete an internship and have a degree but can't call themselves a dietitian. It stinks to go through 4 years of school and realize your degree means little without a few letters behind it. But even after a few months of this internship...it makes a tremendous difference in being able to navigate the nutrition world.
So if you're ever reading an article about nutrition, especially one with shocking! claims- please look to see who wrote it!