Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTRs) are individuals who are trained and educated at the technical level of dietetics and nutrition practices. They use their training to deliver safe, quality, culturally competent nutrition and food services to patients and clients. Typically, DTRs work under the supervision of Registered Dietitians (RDs) and are vital to food service management and healthcare teams.
If you’re interested in becoming a DTR, there are several requirements you must first fulfill. We’ll cover these general requirements below, as well as what kind of work you can expect after you successfully make your way into this field.
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What Do DTRs Do?
In hospital or clinical settings, a DTR will help implement and execute their RD supervisor’s strategies for patients. Many patients have very specialized nutritional needs when undergoing medical care. A DTR is there to manage and meet these needs so the patient can properly recover or benefit from treatment.
A large part of a DTR’s daily duties involve monitoring and measuring a patient’s weight, body mass, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Based on the data collected, a DTR will work with their supervisor and other medical staff to implement a healthy diet and help facilitate that patient’s recovery. More specifically, a DTR can design food offerings for the patient and assess how much of it they eat.
Other tasks include evaluating an individual’s dietary history to develop a specific nutritional program and planning menus and diets. DTRs will guide patients and their families on how to prepare and plan menus on their own while keeping their established nutritional needs in mind.
Education Requirements for DTRs
There are several educational avenues that an aspiring DTR can pursue in order to qualify for the Registration Examination. First, individuals may complete a Dietetic Technician Program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). These programs include 450 hours of supervised experience and the completion of an associate’s degree from an accredited university or college.
Coursework for most Dietetic Technician Programs includes applied food science and food preparation techniques, nutrition fundamentals, foodservice systems management, physiology, chemistry, food safety microbiology, human resources management, business and communications.
The education requirement may also be fulfilled through the completion of a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent, an ACEND Didactic Program in Dietetics and an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Technician program.
The DTR Credential
Once you have met the education and training requirements, you must pass the national examination for DTRs. This exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Once a passing score is achieved, you will have earned the DTR credential. In order to maintain this credential, DTRs should participate in at least 50 hours of continuing education every five years.
According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dietitian and nutritionist profession is expected to experience 16 percent growth until 2024. This is good news for those interested in becoming a DTR, as these numbers are assumed to reflect job growth for this profession as well.