CDRE Part 1: How to Register and What to Expect

In Canada, to become a dietitian you have to write the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE), so Brianna Kean, one of our previous guest bloggers is here to prep us! Thanks Brie!

We all know the journey to becoming a dietitian isn’t a short one. After five (or more) years of education and practicums, we finally emerge ready to make the world a healthier place. While this is definitely a means for celebration, there’s still one more step between you and that precious title– the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam!

While applying for the CDRE isn’t quite as grueling as applying for internships, it can still seem intimidating at first. To make this last step of your journey a little easier, I’ve outlined some basic info that might help you along. But before I do – please note that this was my experience as an applicant in Nova Scotia. Every province has its own regulatory body, and so the processes and documents may be a little different.

Applying to Write the CDRE

In Nova Scotia, the first step to writing the CDRE is applying for a temporary membership with the NSDA. Since gathering documents can take some time it’s best to start as early as you can! Here are a few things you might need to gather before completing the online application:

  1. A verification letter from your institution – my internship director wrote and sent this letter for me.
  2. Your university transcripts– you can usually order these online through your school’s website and have them sent straight to the regulatory body. Keep in mind that this may take a few weeks.
  3. A copy of your birth certificate or citizenship document.

Be prepared to pay the membership/exam fee upon submitting your application. If you’re able to pay via e-transfer like I was, be careful to send the right amount, which I did not.The unexpected $50 refund months later was a nice surprise though!

Scheduling an Appointment

            Once everything is accepted, you’ll receive confirmation of your temporary membership and be assigned a membership ID. Congrats – this means you can now legally work as a dietitian in your province!!! Within a couple of weeks, you should get an email from the external exam company, with instructions on how to pick a date, time, and location to write your CDRE. 

            The CDRE takes place over a 6-day period. My advice is to choose your exam time carefully. At first, I planned on choosing an early date so I could get it over with ASAP. But because of the limited options available in my area, I ended up booking mine for the second-last day. Looking back, I’m grateful that I ended up having a few extra days to study!

Exam Day

            Fast forward to exam day. You’ve (hopefully) put weeks to months of your spare time into studying for this one test. Don’t worry, I’m not skipping over the exam prep period, I’m devoting a whole other article to that! For now, my advice is to make sure you’re well-rested and well fed on the day of your exam. Your brain is going to need lots of extra fuel today!       

Before leaving the house, make sure you have two pieces of ID with you. Also, leave with PLENTY of time to arrive and find the right room, accounting for any unexpected delays (ex. railroad crossings that make you sit in agony for ten whole minutes). It’s suggested that you arrive 30 minutes early so you can get registered and be ready to begin on time.

On my exam day, I woke up feeling slightly nervous but with an overwhelming sense of relief that it would soon be done and over with. However, I also woke up to a winter storm. In a place that shuts down with a single snowflake in the forecast, I knew my exam would be canceled. *Instant panic*. How do I reschedule it? What if they can’t reschedule me within the exam window? What if I have to wait until the next sitting, in 6 months?! If this happens to you, don’t worry as much as I did. The exam company will get in contact and reschedule your exam for you!

I hope this helps you wrap your head around the CDRE process – keep an eye out for my next blog CDREPart 2: Exam Structure and How to Prepare!

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