Have you ever wondered… how do you become an Registered Dietitian? What is the Dietetic Internship and how do I apply? How to prepare for the Registered Dietitian exam? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions… today’s blog is for you!
Hey friends! Jeni here, your HGG RDN. It was so fun getting to know each of you on IG stories the other day! Thank you so much for all your questions… so many of them centered around becoming an Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! As mentioned on Instagram I recently passed my RD exam, so all of this information is new and fresh in mind and I am happy to share!
Jeni’s RDN Journey
I originally received my degree in Exercise Science from the University of Kansas with the intent of becoming a Physical Therapist. However, while at school in Kansas I struggled monthly with migraines, which were always around my cycle. I was put on birth control and a preventative medication to try and help ease my cycle and migraines, but nothing helped. When I moved to Dallas after graduation, I took it upon myself to research and try to figure out why this was happening. I decided to try taking a magnesium supplement to see if this eased my symptoms because I had heard that a magnesium deficiency can cause migraines. I was amazed to find out that my migraines went away after a few months! This simple but powerful experience led me to become so fascinated with nutrition and the role it has with our health!
Then through many closed doors with my physical therapy dream and dealing with my own health, my path suddenly changed. I knew I wanted to go back to school and work toward becoming an Registered Dietitian Nutritionist also known as an RDN. Since my husband (fiancé at the time) was looking for jobs across the country, I knew I needed to pick a school where I could receive my degree online. I ended up getting accepted into the Dietetic’s program at Kansas State University and also moved to Colorado that same year!
During the last year of my second bachelors degree, I started looking for places to apply for my dietetic internship. A dietetic internship is basically like applying to grad school. You fill out an extensive application to schools across the country to complete a specific number of practice hours in different settings. It was an amazing day when I was accepted into Utah State University! This is actually where Megan went for her internship as well! My entire internship was 8 months long and consisted of 3 different settings. I had to complete hours in clinical, community and foodservice. Each of these were drastically different and I had lots of projects and tests to complete within each rotation in addition the internship hours.
After finishing my internship, I started studying for the RD exam. This exam is extremely difficult and requires A LOT of hours studying. My first time around, I studied for 4-5 weeks and unfortunately didn’t pass by only one point! I was so disappointed in myself and honestly felt like a failure. I had worked so hard and felt like I knew the material, but fell short. It was important for me to take a couple days and deal with the emotions of not passing. I took time to cry, spend time not thinking about school and allowing myself to process what studying looked like moving forward. I knew I could do it and want any of you to know that if you’re in the same boat I was, know that you can do it too! I promise that getting back up and trying again is so worth it. You aren’t a failure and you will reach your goal of becoming an RD! I ended up hiring an incredible tutor and studied for another month before retaking the test. This time I passed and it was one of the greatest moments! I was so proud of myself for not only passing the exam in my second trimester of pregnancy, but also really understanding the material I was tested on. I had a fun day full of celebration and disbelief to finally be done with school after 9 years of college! Now, I am officially an RDN and so privileged to work with HGG full time!
How To Become An RDN Questions!
These are questions that HGG gals in our community asked me on Instagram.
How Do I Get Into The RD Career Field?
To become an Registered Dietitian you are required to have your Bachelors degree in Dietetic’s, finish a Dietetic internship, which consist of 1200 supervised practice hours and then pass the RD certification exam. From there you are also required to complete continuing education hours. In a few years, you will be required to receive your Master’s degree before applying for your internship.
Advice On Supervised Practice Hours
This question is in reference to the Dietetic Internship which is 1,200 hours of supervised practice hours in various dietetic settings such as clinical (in the hospital), out-patient, community health, food service systems management and more. If you’re accepted into a distance program you will need to reach out and secure your own preceptors which will then need to be approved by your internship. I recommend making sure that of all your hours are completely scheduled before you start. Clinical tends to be the most challenging rotation (from people I’ve talked to) so you may want to schedule that one first to complete! Once you’re in each rotation, really strive to learn something new each day. I didn’t love every rotation, which is actually helpful to discover what you truly want to do / what is the best fit for your future career as an RD! However, I really wanted to soak up as much as I could in each rotation because it is such an educational experience. Your preceptors are such an incredible source for you! Ask them a ton of questions and use them as resources, even after your internship!
Best Tips For Studying For The RD Exam
Every person has their own unique study habits that work best for them! I recommend thinking back to how you studied best in your undergrad degree and study this same for the RD exam. For me, I understand concepts best when I speak them out loud to myself multiple times…. so that’s what I did!
Second, schedule your exam even before you start studying. This will give you a goal and deadline and then you can create an organized study schedule leading up the exam. Having an exam date also gives you a realistic goal on how much material you need to get through each day. Without a schedule, you will feel extremely overwhelmed!
Third, I studied with Jean Inman, Pocket Prep and did the Eat Right free trial questions towards the end. Jean Inman was the main source of my studying and I went through about 5-6 pages per day. My second time around studying for the exam, I rewrote major concepts and this was really helpful. I had an entire notebook full of notes by the end, which was such a tedious process, but truly helped me remember information! After each domain, I did the Inman and Pocket Prep questions for that domain. After I felt like I grasped the major concepts, I moved on to the next domain. My total studying was probably 6 weeks or so!
Finally, one of the hardest, yet essential things for me was to relax the day before my exam! I naturally wanted to keep cramming more info in, however I made myself relax and do other things. I knew as much as I could and stressing more would only make it worse. I went to bed early the night before, ate a filling breakfast the day of and went into the exam as confidently and calmly as I could!
What’s It Like Working Remotely?
There are so many options for work as an RDN beyond the traditional clinical hospital role. For example, Megan started her own company, Healthy Grocery Girl which originally was a private practice providing nutrition coaching and then evolved into a nutrition and wellness media company with the HGG website, blog, YouTube channel, books, contributing to magazine and television segments as well as recipe development, photography and spokesperson work!
I work remotely for Healthy Grocery Girl which is incredible and has a lot of perks, yet is is also challenging! The biggest challenge is making sure that I keep myself organized. I treat my remote job such like I would going into the office for a job by creating for myself a work schedule. I have to be diligent with my time and tasks. I love organization and lists, so this type of structure works very well for me. For others, working remotely may not work well because it does have a lot of freedom and may be distracting or hard to stay focused, especially if working from home. I know Megan and I would love to be working side by side each day, but I am so thankful to work for HGG remotely and that I’ll be able to work from home as a mom when our little baby arrives!
MORE RDN TIPS!
Megan also shared her RDN Journey and How To Become An RDN in these videos below if you’re looking for more!