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Career as a Dietician


Who is a dietician?

“The profession of dietetics contributes to the promotion of health and the prevention and treatment of illness by optimizing the nutrition of populations, communities and individuals. Dietitians have a defined and recognizable body of knowledge and utilize scientific principles and methods in the study of nutrition and dietetics, applying these results to influence the wider environment affecting food intake and eating behaviour. The scope of dietetic practice is such that dietitians may work in a variety of settings and have a variety of work functions.”


What does a dietician do?

While a dietitian’s work does center on food and its role in helping people lose weight, they aren’t in the business of suggesting name-brand weight-loss diets such as Atkins, Paleo or South Beach Diet.

They are credentialed health professionals who have obtained a bachelor’s degree, completed a supervised internship and passed a national exam honoring them with the title of registered dietitian, or RD for short. Then, every five years, they must complete 75 hours of continuing education credits to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of science’s understanding of nutrition and the human body.

Also, while dietitians are by nature nutritionists, the inverse is not necessarily true, since there’s no licensing required to call yourself a nutritionist. In some states, the title of nutritionist may convey no special education, training or experience.


Types of dietician specializations

A dietician is a nutrition expert who helps promote a healthy way of living through proper eating habits. Before a person becomes a registered dietician, he or she needs to finish a bachelor's degree, undergo internship and pass a licensee examination. A dietician may take additional courses in order to specialize in specific areas including:

The clinical dietician can be found working not only in hospitals but also in facilities with nursing care. The dietician work along with health professionals (doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and social workers) in coordinating medical findings and the nutritional requirements of a patient. A dietician works on a therapy of medical nutrition for patients. A clinical dietician may work in the management patients with excessive weight or patients who are critically, patients with renal diseases or diabetes. The clinical dietician also assists in the management of food service departments.


The Community dietician works with worldwide health organizations, public health groups, day care centers, resorts, health clubs and clubs in coming up with an effective program of nutrition. This dietician gives advice to an individual or a group of individuals educate them on proper and nutritional habits which will help in the prevention of diseases. Community dieticians may also work with some agencies for home health, visit and advise a household on the proper grocery shopping procedure. While at it, the dietician also informs the household on what and how to prepare foods for the elders, for the children and for those with special needs. The home visitation is also made by a dietician to patients who are severely sick and cannot attend the consultation in the center or facility.


The Gerontological dietician is specialized in working out a diet and nutritional plan for the elderly. This dietician works in aged nursing homes and care facilities.


The Pediatric dietician gives health advice for young people under 18 years of age.


The Food service dietician takes part in planning and providing food for a large number of people such as in schools, cafeterias, restaurants and prisons. Part of this dietician’s work is to assess, plan and coordinate the food services and processes with a health care facility. A Food service dietician also sees to the nutrition and operational management of the kitchen and delivery staffs including assistants and aides.


The Research dietician is involved in researches related to diets, foods and nutrition. These researches are performed usually in hospitals and research facilities to gain awareness about aspects of food provision and preparation which is critical to the health of the patient. The research dietician also works on how the quality of dietetics may be improved.


The Consultant dietician may either work in private practice or be contracted to health care associations and facilities. The dietician screens a client according to nutrition concerns, gives essential counsel on concerns relating to diets like losing weight and reducing cholesterol levels.


The Administrative dietician manages a dietary department.


The Business dietician work in companies which manufacture food, offer nutritional supplements as well as supplies used in tube feeding.


What is the workplace of dieticians like?

Registered dietitian nutritionists work in a variety of settings, overseeing food planning and preparation. While some may spend time in a commercial or facility kitchen, most work in an office setting, managing nutrition programs, seeing clients and/or working on policy issues related to nutrition. Most work a typical 40-hour week.


Knowledge areas that need to be acquired

Knowledge of nutrition and healthy foods is just one component of what it takes to successfully work in a nutrition job. Day-to-day duties will require you to complete paper work, talk with individuals and small groups, and promote behavior change for healthy eating. These duties require special skills. By perfecting these skills, you will make yourself more competitive in the job search, and your work will be much more achievable and enjoyable once you do get the job.


Working with people and behavior change. When working one-on-one or in small groups you must be friendly and approachable in your correspondence. Nutrition and eating habits can be a delicate subject for many, and people may be stepping out of their comfort zone when discussing this topic with you. It is important to show that you respect that. In addition, it is important to understand and practice the theories of health promotion. For example, the Transtheoretical Model classifies people into five stages of change. By utilizing these theories when working with people you can best determine how to help them with their nutrition goals.

Know your way around a computer. Nutrition jobs require work on a computer and often the Internet. You will be required to create spreadsheets, keep track of client information, use software to analyze the nutritional content of foods and develop meal plans, utilize email, get involved with web-based social media, and conduct informational research on the computer. It is important to become familiar with using these tools in your daily work.

Organizational skills. These jobs are demanding. They require work outside the normal 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. work day, and many involve several types of duties labeled under one position title. You may have client meetings, coalition meetings, evening workshops, consultations with colleagues, research to conduct, papers to write and lectures to teach. It is a necessity that you are a very organized person to successfully work in a nutrition job.

Research translation. Employment in the nutrition field often requires that you put complicated research findings and technical nutrition information into a form that can be understood by those not familiar with the field. You work with the general public in a community-based position or one-on-one with clients you will have to translate this information to make it understandable, and then use it to educate consumers on how to put it into practice in their daily lives. Remember that you will be working with people that know nothing about nutrition. This means you need to be able to take a step back and simplify nutrition information as much as possible.

Ability to be non-judgmental. It is impossible to work in nutrition and successfully help others if you have a judgmental attitude. Those working in nutrition must possess the ability to listen to people with an open mind and use that information to help them with their eating. You cannot expect people to eat the way you do or understand nutritional information like you do. Each person is in a different place in life, and faces different barriers that prevent them from eating well. It is the job of those working in nutrition to use their knowledge to develop a way to help others based on individual needs.


skills

· an interest in and knowledge of the scientific aspects of food

· an interest in working in a care-based setting

· strong verbal and written communication skills

· the ability to explain complex ideas simply

· excellent interpersonal skills to develop relationships with patients.

· team working skills to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team

· the ability to prioritize your work and manage a caseload

· time management skills and the ability to work under pressure

· IT skills to record and access patient records

· a positive attitude and the ability to motivate others

· understanding and tact to deal with sensitive issues

· negotiation skills to help patients overcome barriers and create positive change

· caring and compassionate approach to other peoples' feelings

· willingness to keep up to date with current nutrition information and research.


Abilities

· Identifying nutrition problems and assessing the nutritional status of patients in a clinical setting.

· Developing diet plans and counseling patients on special diet modifications.

· Assessing, promoting, protecting, and enhancing the health of the general public in a community setting and providing strategies for prevention of nutrition-related diseases.

· Managing a cost-effective food production operation, distributing high quality meals/snacks, and monitoring sanitation and safety standards in a food service setting.

· Operating private consulting practices to provide expertise in nutrition, as well as promote health and prevent disease

· Working with individuals, groups, workplaces and media to provide dietary advice for healthy living.

· Working with food and pharmaceutical companies to provide research, develop products, educate consumers, and promote and market better food and nutritional products in a business setting.

· Teachings nutrition, food chemistry, or food service administration to students in any health profession and at all levels of education.


Work activities

· Dietitians work on a group and an individual basis with people of all ages. They work both with people who are sick and people who are well. Responsibilities include:

· providing health advice and promoting healthy eating

· advising about special diets

· making presentations

· writing reports

· educating health professionals and the public about nutrition

· establishing and addressing key health needs

· helping to facilitate dietary changes

· working as part of a multidisciplinary team

· supporting the work of other healthcare professionals

· Dieticians may work with people who have been diagnosed with medical conditions such as diabetes or coeliac disease, or provide practical advice to careers.


Detailed work activities

1) Assess nutritional needs, diet restrictions and current health plans to develop and implement dietary-care plans and provide nutritional counseling.

2) Consult with physicians and health care personnel to determine nutritional needs and diet restrictions of patient or client.

3) Advise patients and their families on nutritional principles, dietary plans and diet modifications, and food selection and preparation.

4) Counsel individuals and groups on basic rules of good nutrition, healthy eating habits, and nutrition monitoring to improve their quality of life.

5) Monitor food service operations to ensure conformance to nutritional, safety, sanitation and quality standards.

6) Coordinate recipe development and standardization and develop new menus for independent food service operations.

7) Develop policies for food service or nutritional programs to assist in health promotion and disease control.

8) Inspect meals served for conformance to prescribed diets and standards of palatability and appearance.

9) Develop curriculum and prepare manuals, visual aids, course outlines, and other materials used in teaching.

10) Prepare and administer budgets for food, equipment and supplies.

11) Purchase food in accordance with health and safety codes.

12) Select, train and supervise workers who plan, prepare and serve meals.

13) Manage quantity food service departments or clinical and community nutrition services.

14) Coordinate diet counseling services

15) Advise food service managers and organizations on sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning to assist with the establishment, operation, and evaluation of food service facilities and nutrition programs.

16) Organize, develop, analyze, test, and prepare special meals such as low-fat, low-cholesterol and chemical-free meals.

17) Plan, conduct, and evaluate dietary, nutritional, and epidemiological research.

18) Plan and conduct training programs in dietetics, nutrition, and institutional management and administration for medical students, health-care personnel and the general public.

19) Make recommendations regarding public policy, such as nutrition labeling, food fortification, and nutrition standards for school programs.

20) Write research reports and other publications to document and communicate research findings.

21) Plan and prepare grant proposals to request program funding.

22) Test new food products and equipment.

23) Confer with design, building, and equipment personnel to plan for construction and remodeling of food service units.


Personality

1. Effective Communicator - The ability to convey what you want to say both verbally and in written language is critical in the dietetic profession. Being at French hospital for my food service management rotation, I would constantly see Sandy, the food service director, communicating with just about everyone in the hospital, not just her own team, in person and via email! This essential skill enables Sandy to collaborate with the team and as the old saying goes: “teamwork makes the dream work!”


2. Flexible - In the internship (and life in general), things don’t always go as planned! It’s important as a dietetic professional to be flexible and roll with the punches while keeping cool. During my time at the PHD, an RD went on vacation. She normally runs the health care center (HCC) in Santa Maria by herself. It was awesome to see other RDs step in to help fill in the schedule gaps. One dietitian hadn’t worked in the HCC in 5 years but was willing to relearn the ropes! Now that’s being flexible.


3.Loving their work- I can honestly say that all of the dietitians I have worked with love what they do. They all go the extra mile, whether that means coming in early to do a counseling session for a client who can only come in at 6:30 a.m., searching endlessly to find the perfect handouts for clients, or taking a client at closing time. They don’t do these things because they have to, it’s because they want to!


4. Ethical - The fundamental principles of the Code of Ethics that dietetics practitioners agree to abide by consist of conducting themselves with honesty, integrity and fairness. At the eating disorder clinic, clients divulge private information at every session. The dietitian, Athena, practices ethically by keeping all information confidential and when necessary shares information that must be reported, such as self-harm.


5. Knowledgeable - Being a dietitian means everywhere you go; people will ask you questions and your opinions about food and anything nutrition related! Although as a food service manager you are primarily working to operate the preparation of food served in the hospital, you must still be knowledgeable with other aspects of nutrition as well! In one day, Sandy was asked about: the keto diet from a café customer, insulin levels after breakfast from a nurse and food safety from a food service worker! (Also, the best dietitians don’t always know all the answers, but they do how to find them through evidence-based research!)


6. Empathetic - Having the ability to understand and show compassion for people is essential in the dietetic profession. Successful dietetic professionals have the capacity to recognize emotions and relate to people. The dietitians at WIC often hear stories from clients that are heartbreaking. Watching and listening to the dietitians in practice has helped me pick up on better techniques when these types of situations arise.


7. Organized - Effective dietetic professionals are always organized. It is an important quality that is pertinent to practice. The nutritionist at the school district must keep careful records of all children who have allergies, stay on top of routine administrative tasks and periodic visits from government agencies/ environmental health, and manage her time wisely on a day-to-day basis. Her incredible organizational skills allow her to focus on stuff that matters like getting healthier foods on the menu instead of wasting time worrying and wondering where her paperwork is.


Frequently asked questions:

What are various job opportunities after pursuing the program?

Ans. PUBLIC SECTOR:

Public Health Departments

International Organizations (UNICEF/ UNDP/ WHO)

Non-Governmental Organizations

Community Development Programmes


PRIVATE SECTOR:

Multi-National Companies

Own Private Practice

Food Industry

Consultant for Private Companies, Private Hospitals, Airlines and Railways, Hotels, Health Care Centers

Quality food service establishments.

Sports and Fitness centers.

Health and Wellness Industries.

Private Hospitals.

Airlines and Railways

Hotels, Counselors in Schools etc.


RESEARCH:

Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI)

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR)

National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)


TEACHING:

Universities, Colleges and Schools.


Is being a nutritionist/dietitian a good career? Also, what do you have to do in order to be one

Dietitians and nutritionists are an open field, as more and more people are aware of the need for good nutrition. Jobs will be abundant for the foreseeable future.

To become a Registered Dietitian requires a four-year degree in Food and Nutrition or related field. As of 2020, a Master’s Degree will be required to be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam. (Until then, an internship is needed prior to taking the exam.)


Areas of study include biology and microbiology, physiology, chemistry (basic, organic, and biochemistry), statistics, food science, sanitation, clinical nutrition (which includes application of nutrition to medical issues), public health, and miscellaneous courses in which you learn to write a menu, design kitchen and dining areas, including space and equipment requirements. I’m probably forgetting some subjects.


Careers include working with schools, food companies, grocery stores, public health (from education to regulations and laws), long-term care, acute care hospitals, food companies, pharmaceutical companies for research, 1:1 counseling, health clinics, gyms - dozens of venues.

You need to be good in the sciences, articulate and able to explain, good at counseling and education, and have good people skills.


Since the science of nutrition continues to evolve, continuing education is required to be kept up to date, but this isn’t onerous and keeps your skills up to date.

The definition of a nutritionist is less well defined. Some have a degree in Food and Nutrition but never took the exam, and others are self-educated. There is no legal definition.


How much does a dietician earn in India?

Nutrition is a very upcoming industry, and the demand is on a rise. After Clearing your masters, you will be termed as a Nutritionist. You can only work under someone, or in some organization. The average salary you can earn is around 20–25 k in the beginning. With experience (after 3–4 years), your salary can go up around 40–50k .

Dietician : After your masters if you clear the license, you will be termed as a Dietician. You can work under someone or open your own set-up. The salary of Dietician starts from 25–30k. If you have your own set-up, you can charge anywhere around 1k per session to 5k to per session. Dieticians who work with celebrities charge any amount they want.

On an average, if you have skills and experience earning 10k per day is not a big thing.


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