So you passed the RD Exam? Congratulations!

Passing the RD Exam is an exhilarating experience and you are probably feeling immensely relieved after months of studying and wondering if all of your hard work during undergrad, grad school, and your dietetic internship would finally pay off. Although this is an exciting time and a cause for celebration, it is also normal to feel a little uncertain as well. Before now, your RD2Be journey was well mapped out and you always knew the next step. Where do you go? How do you proceed from here?

Dietetic interns after passing the RD Exam

What was your mood like after passing the RD Exam?

To help navigate this transition into your new RD career, the BWS DI Faculty team provided some next steps for your first days as a registered dietitian:

Complete your RD Registration

You’ve got your exam results in hand saying you passed, so that means you’re a registered dietitian (or registered dietitian nutritionist), right? Technically speaking, not yet. On the day you pass your exam, you will receive an email from CDR congratulating you on passing the exam and outlining the next steps, which include paying your $70 registration fee. Once that fee is paid, you are now free to use that RD or RDN credential. CDR will also provide a digital badge from Credly so you can share it on social media and LinkedIn.

Share the News!

Don’t forget to share the news that you passed the RD Exam with all those individuals who helped you on your RD2Be journey, including professors, DPD program directors, preceptors, volunteer supervisors, previous managers, your internship and college peers, and of course your DI program director or advisor. Even if you aren’t one for tooting your own horn, this is the perfect time to announce a major accomplishment and potentially connect with someone in your network who may know of a job opportunity. Plus, this is a HUGE achievement and you deserve to brag…even if just a little.

Get Licensed

Getting all of your credentialing and licensing paperwork done and out of the way as soon as you pass your RD Exam is generally recommended, especially if you plan to start your job search right away. Depending on your state or the area of nutrition and dietetics you plan to work in, it’s likely you will need state licensure as well. Plus, you get to add more initials to the end of your signature to showcase your professional achievements.

Each state has a different licensure application process so we recommend searching for the requirements of the state where you’re planning to work. Just remember… until your application has been approved and you’ve been granted state licensure, you cannot use the LD credential or practice as a licensed dietitian in a state requiring licensure.

Update your LinkedIn Profile

It may take up to 3 days to receive your digital badge from CDR so hopefully by now you have received it and can begin sharing it. LinkedIn is the best place to start in sharing your professional achievement! Don’t forget to add your new initials to the end of your name in the heading to make it easier for recruiters to identify you as a registered dietitian.

Hopefully, you’ve been nurturing your professional presence on LinkedIn throughout college and your dietetic internship years. You never know who may come across your announcement post so we definitely don’t recommend skipping this step.

If you are just starting your LinkedIn profile, no worries! Better late than never. This is a great opportunity to build out your profile with your education, employment experience, dietetic internship rotations, etc. It’s also quite easy to build your profile, but if you’re in need of support here is a great resource to get started. Plus, make sure to connect with all those you’ve encountered along the way to begin building your online network. We believe LinkedIn can be a powerful tool throughout your career which is why we provide a session on the importance of LinkedIn during Exit Class.

Self-Reflection Time

Reality is starting to set in: you are about to embark on your new nutrition career. If you do not have a job already lined up, this is a great opportunity to reflect on your past experiences and what you hope for in a future employer.

Think back to your dietetic internship days… what rotations did you enjoy most? Did you love the fast pace of clinical work or do you hope to support your community in a public health setting? Would you like to work with kids in school nutrition, or could you even see yourself diving right into private practice? In addition, what other elements of a job are important to you? Think about your ideal schedule, remote vs. onsite, team culture, salary, etc. When it comes to salary, what kind of pay are you looking to get or do you need to sustain your lifestyle and pay any bills? For help determining a competitive salary for your geographic area, check out the salary calculator the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides.

Your take-home salary isn’t the only thing to consider when evaluating an offer. It’s also worth factoring in PTO, job flexibility, healthcare benefits, and whether your employer will offer reimbursement for continuing education, professional conferences, etc.

Although you may not get your pie-in-the-sky job the first go around, hopefully you will get to check off some must-have qualities for your first-ever RD job.

Get your Ducks in a Row

Now that you no longer have to study for the RD Exam (yay!), you have all of this newfound free time. Before you begin searching for employment opportunities, make sure to get your ducks in a row. If you haven’t updated your resume since your dietetic internship application, we recommend starting there.

Not only do you want your resume to be up to date, but you may also want to put together a professional portfolio of work completed during your dietetic internship, a cover letter template, and even assemble a handful of references ready to speak on your behalf as you progress throughout your job search.

If you recently graduated, you may even still be able to take advantage of free resources from your alma mater such as resume workshops or mock interviews. Until you land that first job, make sure to take advantage of any free resources you can get your hands on!

Let the Job Search Begin

Now is the time you’ve been finally waiting for… the job search! You are so close to getting your first RD job you can almost taste the scoop of ice cream or whatever you’re going to treat yourself to with that first paycheck.

Signing up for job alerts on Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and any other job sites with various keywords for your search is a great start. Don’t limit yourself to just “registered dietitian,” but also do your research on titles other registered dietitians may hold. You may consider the following for your search: registered dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist, nutrition professional, nutrition coordinator, nutrition specialist, nutrition health professional, clinical dietitian, foodservice director, community nutritionist, wellness coordinator, associate nutritionist, etc.

But don’t stop there. Networking is one of the best job search tactics you can utilize because forming a connection with an employer will help you stand out relative to the many other applicants. Also, if you’re a BWS DI alum, don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for our Alumni Newsletter for new job postings!

What to Know about CEUs and Maintaining your RD (and LD) Credential

Now that you’re officially a registered dietitian it’s time to maintain that credential with CEUs. You may want to give yourself a breather before you start on any courses or webinars until you land your first job and determine what area of nutrition and dietetics you’ll be working in. This will help you find CEUs that will be most applicable to your area of nutrition and dietetics, which is why newly credentialed RDs get a grace period on the start of their recertification. Plus, you can also ask coworkers or your manager for good resources if you’re not sure how or where to get started.

Although you have a 5-year cycle to complete your CEUs, DO NOT wait until the last minute to work on them. Creating some sort of plan for “x hours” per year can help you not get overwhelmed when that 5-year cycle deadline approaches. Also, you can even get started on creating your PDP Portfolio to help map out competencies and CEUs you’ll be focusing on for each recertification cycle. Here is a guide to learn more.

BWS DI loves sharing out CEU resources as well, which is one more reason to follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for our BWS DI Alumni Newsletter.

Finally passing the RD Exam is an amazing feeling, but it’s okay if you’re also grappling with some uncomfortable feelings as you transition from RD2Be to RD. We hope these tips help as you enter a new era of your nutrition and dietetics journey and just remember… we’ve all been there! Congratulations again and best of luck in your new career.

Have a question? Leave a comment below, or send us an email at bwsdi@bewellsolutions.com! Don’t forget to check out our other posts on the BWS DI Blog for helpful tips during your dietetic internship and beyond.