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Defining the Registered Dietitian and Medical Nutrition Therapy
Registered dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who:

  • earned a minimum of a pre-med bachelor’s degree at a US accredited university or college,
  • completed a supervised practice program at a healthcare facility or community agency lasting up to one year
  • passed a national accreditation examination and,
  • complete continuing professional education requirements on an on-going basis.

The registered dietitian is the health care provider with the most intensive experience necessary to provide nutrition services to individuals interested in medical nutrition therapy or preventive nutrition counseling.

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is defined as a plan or set of steps, developed through a consultative process by a Registered Dietitian, which incorporates current professional knowledge and research, and clearly defines the level, content, and frequency of nutrition care that is appropriate for a disease or condition.  Medical nutrition therapy begins with the nutritional assessment of a client, followed by a medically prescribed nutrition therapy based on standard protocols.

Medical nutrition therapy includes identifying treatment goals and developing the nutrition prescription, providing self-management training through individualized counseling and designing specialized nutrition therapies. During MNT, the registered dietitian provides clients with a comprehensive service that includes an assessment of the nutrition status of a client with a disease, condition, illness or injury that puts the patient at nutritional risk. This nutrition assessment consists of a review and analysis of medical and dietary history, laboratory test values, anthropometric measurements, and food/prescription drug interactions.

Medical Nutrition Therapy is an essential component of comprehensive health care services.  Individuals with a variety of conditions and illnesses can improve their health and quality of life by receiving medical nutrition therapy.  MNT can increase a person's health and well-being, and increase productivity and satisfaction levels through decreased doctor visits, hospitalizations and reduced prescription drug use.

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