Please help me with my career-- RN or RD?

  1. Hi All,

    After spending some time in the corporate world, I've come to realize that a career in the health field is much more up my alley. After quite a bit of research, I'm having difficulty discerning whether I want to be a nurse, or a registered dietitian. I've always been really into a healthy lifestyle (re: fitness and nutrition fanatic), but have heard that their are not as many jobs for RD's. Obviously there will be some bias towards nursing here, but could you please advise me as to the career style/day to day work of nurses in clinics/hospitals vs. an RD?
    Also, as I graduated from university with a BA in Psychology, I would have to do quite a bit of schooling for either option (I don't have any chem, and not many bio pre reqs).
    One more thing- if I were to become a nurse, is an ADN not as valued as a BSN, even if I have my bachelors, yet in a different area?

    Thank you so much for your wisdom!
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    About kquinn

    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 4; Likes: 1

    9 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    There are obviously more opportunities for work as a nurse versus RD. And there are a myriad of specialties in nursing that one can work in. An associate degree will get you working as a nurse. You will need the BSN if you want to progress in your career or education. Employers really only care about the RN license, not your education level. Positions that require certain education levels are clearly identified. One can get by with an associate's degree if they are not interested in management, teaching, or furthering their education. However, there are some institutions that put a BSN requirement for their nurses. Then, one would have to go back to school, or find another job.
  4. by   kquinn
    Thank you very much for your prompt response! I already have my bachelors, but in psychology. I have heard that it's not necessary to get my BSN if I already have my bachelors, and that I will be able to progress in my career regardless, as long as I have a bachelors (in any field). So I'm assuming this is incorrect?
  5. by   caliotter3
    To progress in a nursing career, you need a BSN or an MSN. The important immediate reason to obtain this degree is the possibility that you obtain a job as a staff nurse in a hospital, where down the road, they decide to make the BSN mandatory. If you already have your BSN, you would not have to worry about being affected by such a policy. There are many positions that state that a BSN is required or preferred. A BS in another field would not fit the bill for these positions. With your previous degree, you would qualify to enter an accelerated BSN program for people with degrees. These programs are reported to be very intense and many have to switch to traditional programs because they can't keep up.
  6. by   kquinn
    Thank you!
  7. by   IzzyTheRN08
    you should look for a direct entry master's program...its for students who have had a BS/BA and basically you get the BSN schooling w/ some masters classes so by the end of the (i think most places they are 18 mo programs) you end up w/ your masters!! something to think about perhaps?
  8. by   David13
    Having your bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field may be of some assistance depending upon the type of health care job you are seeking. It is worth noting that many positions are very specific to nursing do require the Bachelor's degree or Master's degree to be in nursing as a requirement for advancement.

    In regard to a career in nursing versus a career as a dietitian, nursing offers a great deal more variety. However, none of the dietitians I have ever known have had to work on nights, weekends, or holidays.
  9. by   hellokittypink
    I was a Regirstered Dietitian for ten years before I went back to school for nursing. I can honestly tell you I love both professions. Nurses and dietitians work together but probably not enough. My experiences as a dietitian have been in large teaching hospitals, a dialysis center, drug research and teaching. My only problem with being a dietitian is that it does not pay very well. Don't expect to make more than 40,000 something a year ever....
    Yes, that is right. To be a dietitian you need an undergraduate degree (so 4 years of university study) and a masters and or an internship. All and all it is about 5-6+ years of school.

    I have been a nurse for 2 years now and have really enjoyed it. It is hard work both mentally and physically. It took me 5 years of schooling including pre-reqs and a BSN. Money wise, I make more than 40,0000 and can be home with my kids when they need me. The hours are strange but they work for our family. I work 7p-7am x3 a week in the medical ICU in a large teaching hospital.

    You may want to shadow both a nurse and a dietitian to make your decisions.

    Hope that info helps...
  10. by   GennyinMaryland
    I am both a RN and a RD. I keep both licenses currrent. I worked as an RD years ago but choose to work as an RN now. I don't think I will ever go back to being only an RD. In nursing there are many. many more job possiblities, but the main reason I choose nursing as my career is because I get more involved in the whole picture of a person's health, not just on what they eat. For example, as an RN working with a diabetic patient, I can get involved in what's happening with their medications, with symptoms affecting their eyes, kidneys, stomach, feet, etc. and not just on their diet. I can draw blood and explain what all the blood tests mean, take vital signs, etc. and not just talk about menus and carbohydrates. I do use my nutrition background a lot but it is so great to be able to do much more than that.

    Do an interesting google search with "RD RN". You will see the resumes and job positions of others who have both licenses. You will see that some have chosen to emphasize nursing in their career and others dietetics. Everyone has different ideas on what's an interesting career. Good luck to you!
  11. by   stellina615
    Hi kquinn,

    Although I don't have any experience as a dietician, I do feel that nursing would afford you a lot more flexibility and opportunities to grow in your career. The RD who works on my unit (an inpatient psych unit) is pretty much relegated to writing orders for carnation instant breakfast and HS tuna fish sandwiches. She doesn't get to go to treatment rounds and only gets to spend limited amounts of time with the patients, with not very much follow-up from what I've seen. Obviously, diet is an integral part of well-being, but as a nurse you still have the opportunity to educate about diet and other lifestyle modification as well as a WHOLE WORLD of other stuff! There are lots of sub-specialties of nursing where diet would be a focus, such as diabetic education or a bariatric clinic. You could look into those.

    As far as the degree part, I know that some of the bigger hospitals in my area are starting to require a BSN and will not interview candidates for RN positions who don't have one (I have a Bachelor's in another field, but if it's not a BSN, it doesn't count). You could start out with an Associate's program, just make sure that there are facilities in the area that would hire you. I plan on going for either a BSN or a Master's, but after the Associate's program, I need a break! I wish you all the best in whatever you choose to do!

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