When it comes to standard career paths, NDRs are trained for intensive care, such as hospital care, including parenteral nutrition (tube), while CNS are trained in chronic care and private clinical practice, working in doctor's offices or in private wellness centers. While there are many similarities between nutritionists and dietitians, some distinctive differences lead to two different career paths. The main difference is certification requirements. A nutritionist must pass a different certification exam to have a nutritionist degree.
As a nutritionist or dietitian, you would also have a fuller range of specialties you can choose from, including sports nutrition, human performance, and pediatrics. Dietitians' training and practice revolve around food and dietary patterns. CCN training focuses less on specific foods and more on the nutritional values they represent, and how body tissues use those nutrients. The training and practice of clinical nutritionists lean towards complementary and alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, naturopathy and detoxification.
In the United States, dietitians are certified to treat clinical conditions, while nutritionists are not always certified. At Applied, clinical nutrition can be completed in as little as two years and fully online when completed at Northeast College of Health Sciences. Nutritionists seeking the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential must complete a baccalaureate degree or advanced nutritionist in a nutrition discipline to qualify for the certification exam. A master's program in clinical nutrition focuses on the relationship between food and disease, primarily in health care and disease research settings.
Potential CCNs must complete the board's graduate program in clinical nutrition, which consists of 56 hours of specialized online instruction, to receive certification and credentials. The most important difference to consider between a certified nutrition specialist and a dietitian is that only a dietitian can provide medical nutritional therapy. Many people complete a degree in clinical nutrition, dietetics, or public health nutrition that includes a DPD. The Nutrition Specialist Certification Board (CBNS) offers nutritionists the opportunity to earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential.
A certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) is qualified to assess people's nutritional needs based on their lifestyle and health goals. There are states that require nutritionists to have a license before they can provide nutritional advice, and others require a professional to be a DR to legally provide nutritional advice. Clinical dietitians in hospitals, long-term care facilities, inpatient and outpatient clinics, and private practices often work with people suffering from eating disorders, substance abuse, or medical conditions with symptoms that can be improved or controlled with diet or meal planning more specific. To become a clinical nutritionist, you will generally need to have earned the Certified Nutrition Specialty (CNS) credential, which involves an exam and 1000 hours of supervised practice experience.
For example, because nutritionists do not necessarily have a certification, license, or clinical experience, they may not be allowed to provide specific nutritional advice or diagnose and treat medical conditions.