Accredited Practicing Dietitian
The title Accredited Practicing Dietitian is protected by law in Australia, and only qualified practitioners who have met certain requirements can use this title.
To become an APD one must complete a tertiary level course accredited by the Dietitians Association of Australia. These courses vary depending on the university, and may include: a one to two year post-graduate Diploma or Masters degree following a Bachelor of Science degree (including physiology and biochemistry), or a four year integrated undergraduate course. Courses cover food, nutrition, health and diet-related medical conditions, and skills in communication, counselling, education, health promotion, management, research and critical analysis of literature. A list of accredited courses can be found on the DAA website.
APDs are tertiary qualified in food, nutrition and dietetics. They provide expert nutrition advice for people of all ages and prescribe dietary treatments for many conditions such as diabetes, food allergies, cancers, gastro-intestinal diseases, and overweight and obesity. APDs work in hospitals and private practice, government, research and teaching, public health and community nutrition, the food and medical nutrition industries, and nutrition marketing and communications. All APDs are automatically able to use the AN credential, because as part of their qualification in human nutrition, an APD has undertaken a course of study that has included supervised and assessed professional practice in public health nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.
Accredited Practising Dietitian is the only credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia. APDs are committed to the Dietitians Association of Australia Code of Professional Conduct, continuing professional development and providing quality services. A register of all current APDs can be found on the DAA website.
To maintain APD status, nutrition and dietetic professionals are required to undertake a specified level of continuing education and professional development to ensure currency of practice. APD status is reviewed annually by DAA.
Nutritionist, unlike dietitian, is not a protected term. Although there are many undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in nutrition, anyone can refer to him- or herself as a nutritionist without any qualifications. There are many very well qualified respected nutritionists in Australia who have and continue to contribute significantly to the nutritional health of Australia. They work in areas such as public and community health and they are a fantastic resource to the country and myself but in the main they are not qualified to give clinical nutrition advice for medical conditions. A number of groups have made considerable efforts to consolidate and regulate nutritionists but as the term itself is not protected anyone who feels like can and invariably does call themselves a nutritionist including naturopaths , Herbalists, chiropractors personal trainers celebrities and many others.
Always ask a nutritionist what their qualifications are and where they got their clinical experience which should come from a hospital