Dietitians are food and nutrition experts. They promote wellness and can help prevent, delay, and manage diseases. In B.C. only a dietitian who is registered with the College of Dietitians of BC can call themselves a “dietitian” or a “registered dietitian” (R.D.). Dietitians complete four years of university level education in dietetics and nutrition. They complete a one-year practical internship. Dietitians must pass a national exam to test competence. They take a second exam in B.C. that reviews legal, ethical, and professional requirements.
In B.C. people who call themselves nutritionists are not regulated and are not registered with the College of Dietitians of BC.
What does a dietitian do?
Dietitians provide nutrition care to help keep you healthy, get better, or live with illness or disability at any time during your life. Dietitians can help change your eating habits, increase athletic performance, help parents with nutrition information, help people with chronic diseases or conditions, and help people who are critically ill. Dietitians work in variety of places. You can find them in community health centres, health clinics, hospitals, rehab centres, long-term care facilities, schools, universities, businesses, private practice, and sports and recreation centres.
How do dietitians keep their skills up to date?
Dietitians must renew their registration with the College of Dietitians of BC each year. Registered dietitians must complete an on-going program to keep their skills up to date.
What happens when I first visit a dietitian?
A dietitian will help you identify your nutritional goals and things that are important to you to meet these goals. They will design your own individualized nutrition care plan to meet your needs. Together you will decide how much care and support you need. Your dietitian will check on your progress, offer support and suggestions, and adjust or change your plan if necessary.
How can I find a dietitian?
There are several ways of finding a registered dietitian. HealthLink BC offers a free connection with a dietitian who can answer your questions about healthy eating and nutrition.
- Call 8-1-1 Monday to Thursday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.
- For deaf and hearing impaired assistance (TTY)
- Translation services in over 130 languages are available by calling 7-1-1
- The Dietitians of Canada website dietitians.ca lists dietitians in your area
- If you want to know that a dietitian meets current qualifications to practice in BC visit collegeofdietitiansofbc.org and check the CDBC Public Register of Dietitians
How do I pay for a dietitian?
Dietitian services are covered by MSP if you are referred by a physician and receive services through a hospital program.
You do not need a referral to use services from a dietitian in private practice or at a private health clinic. These services, however, are not covered by MSP benefits. Some extended health programs may cover costs.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from a dietitian?
As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your dietitian. If you think that has not happened, please contact the CDBC Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 604.736.2016 or toll-free in BC 1.877.736.2016
Where can I find more information about dietitians?