Letter To The Editor: “Doctor titles: What’s the difference?”

by Brooke on January 24, 2012

Date: 1/23/2012

To: Don Wycliff, Public Editor
Chicago Tribune,
435 N. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60611


Subject: “Doctor titles: What’s the difference?” – Misinformation on RD vs. CNS Credentials


In the article, titled “Doctor titles: What’s the difference?” Julie Deardorff, indicated that a certified nutrition specialist (CNS) is a more credible nutrition expert.  She stated that, “a CNS usually, but not always, has the most advanced science-based training.” This is inaccurate and potentially harmful information provided to all Chicago Tribune readers.

A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements. Many Registered Dietitians hold advanced degrees and additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatrics, renal, prenatal, nutrition support and diabetes education. Because dietitians are cross-trained in many diverse areas, these professionals hold a wide variety of job positions including hospitals, HMOs, private practice, health care facilities, community and public health settings, food and nutrition industry, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness, academia, and research. Considering that they are not cross-trained in community nutrition, food science, or counseling, a CNS has a limited scope of knowledge and skill set compared to a RD.

Yes, a CNS may have an advanced degree (as do half of RDs), but the background degree required for a CNS is not specific to nutrition. RDs must complete a thorough didactic program that provides the breadth of knowledge necessary to properly understand and nutritionally treat a variety of health conditions. This route is typically completed at a bachelors or masters level at accredited universities, followed by no fewer than 1200 hours of supervised practice rotations to meet several approved competencies including, but not limited to, inpatient and outpatient clinical nutrition, food service management, long-term care, community nutrition, nutrition support, and behavioral counseling. All RDs must pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as a RD and accrue a minimum of 75 hours of approved continuing professional education within a specific five-year reporting period. I hope this clarifies and balances the facts for your readers.


Yours sincerely,

Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dagny January 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Looks good, Brooke. The article was really weird. It even seemed to suggest that osteopaths were more qualified than medical doctors!


Brooke January 25, 2012 at 3:15 am

Thanks Dagny. I know…I hope they post this!


Lauren January 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I feel there are so many letters to the editor to be written. Kudos to you for clarifying, let us know the outcome.


Brooke January 30, 2012 at 12:36 am

Thanks Lauren! I will.


Jeni January 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Oh holy moly this must confuse people! CNS also is for Clinical Nurse Specialist, which requires an MSN degree. Great entry Brooker! People need to know what kind of background and work that has gone into these professionals’ expertise!


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