CDR and CPEUs: Everything That New Dietitians Need to Know

When you pass the RD exam and receive your credentials, you begin your relationship with CDR (Commission on Dietetic Registration).

Like any good relationship, your relationship with CDR takes work. Luckily, there are actually only 2 things you need to do for this one to run smoothly. Just make sure you do, or else you will lose your hard-earned credentials (which is almost as sad as an ended relationship, let's be honest). Now, for some "relationship advice", if you will:

1. Annual dues

Cha-ching! Most relationships require spending money, right? Well, this one is no different. You'll pay CDR about one week after your exam. After that, you'll pay them once every year by August 31. You'll get an Email/mail reminder in June every year. You can pay online (CDR website) or by snail mail. These dues are for your "Registered" status (RD or RDN- whichever you choose). Helpful advice: some employers will help pay for your annual dues!

If you will be practicing in a state that requires dietitians to have a license, you may owe annual dues to that licensing organization as well. Not all states require you to be licensed! Look here for state licensing information: https://www.cdrnet.org/state-licensure-agency-list. If you are licensed, you get to put more letters behind your name which, let's be real, is pretty fun, right? You'll put "LD" behind the "RD" behind your name. i.e. Jane Doe, RD, LD (Some states use LDN "Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist").

2. Continuing Professional Education

Always learning. That sounds like a feature of a solid relationship. That's probably why CDR requires it for dietitians. Dietitians typically call continuing education "CPEUs", for short, which stands for Continuing Professional Education Units. This type of education helps you stay up-to-date on various areas of nutrition research and helps expand and freshen your knowledge and skills as an RDN.

CPEUs come in many different forms: webinars you can watch, courses you can take, books you can read, conferences you can attend, etc. However, not just anything will do. They have to be "CDR accredited" which means that the Commission on Dietetic Registration has approved the education and deemed it credible and helpful to a Registered Dietitian in their growth and knowledge as a professional.

Some CPEUs provide as little as 1 CPEU credit, while others, for example, courses, may offer 25 CPEUs. The ones that only offer 1 CPEU might be free or low cost, while those that offer many CPEUs might cost hundreds of dollars.

"So, how do I know what CPEUs to do?" you might be asking. Okay, here's how it works:

You'll create a "Learning Plan" at CDRnet.org in which you will select what areas of nutrition you want to learn about and grow in within the next 5 years. The CPEU activities that you choose to do must match your Learning Plan "performance indicators". More specifics on this and what a Learning Plan is at a previous blog post here.

Now, here's an important piece of advice to you:

The easiest place to find all your CDR accredited CPEU options that match your performance indicators is at CPEU.org. It is similar to an online library that shows you all of your options. You can connect your learning plan and get a list of all CPEUs that match your performance indicators, which will be so handy. You can also filter by price, type of activity, and more. There's also a feature that saves your list of what CPEUs you've completed, storing it in one organized spot. You will need it organized because you will have to verify everything to CDR, and if you are audited, you will need proof of your CPEU certificates. There's a small monthly fee to use the service at CPEU.org, but it is well worth it for the ease, convenience, and organization that it provides. (Psst!...as another piece of advice... many employers will pay for all or most of dietitians' professional education costs which would include the CPEU.org fee as well! Heck. Yes.)

Dietitians need 75 CPEUs every 5 years to maintain Registered status with CDR. If you don't, you'll lose your Registered status and will have to re-take the RD exam to become Registered again. Nooo! So, getting CPEUs and doing the correct ones is super important. Just remember CPEU.org. You got this.

Back to state requirements...

States that require licensure, sometimes also require that you complete a certain number of your CPEUs annually. If you are audited, and you have not completed your number of annual CPEUs, you could lose your license. Yikes. Click on your state's link in here to learn your requirements: https://www.cdrnet.org/state-licensure-agency-list

Recap:

1. Pay your dues (CDR and, if applicable, state licensure).

2. Do your CPEUs (Use CPEU.org to find them and store a list of what you've done for safe-keeping).

3. See if your employer helps pay for these professional costs (most do), and if they don't or if you aren't sure, then definitely ask!

The CDR/RDN relationship is one that's worth the work. I hope this "relationship advice" has made it seem a lot simpler. You've put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (ok, hopefully not blood) into getting your RDN credentials. By maintaining these 2 things, you'll have fulfilled all the requirements for CDR to keep those letters behind your name. Best wishes to you as you begin this new journey as the nutrition expert!