Dieticians and nutritionists are the experts in nutrition and food. Their main task is to advise people what to eat and how to do it properly in order to achieve a health-related goal or lead the healthy lifestyle (Swanson, 2005).
The representatives of this health care occupation usually explain different nutrition issues, assess people’s diet and health needs, develop meal plans in accordance to clients’ preferences, evaluate the effects of these plans, and promote healthy nutrition. They are talking to people about diets and relationship between the bad eating habits and specific diseases. Besides, all the dieticians must keep up with the latest science research.
Sometimes dieticians provide information for specific individuals. It means that they may tell people how to prepare food in a proper way, in order they do not do any harm to their health For example, some specialists work with overweight people, and teach them to plan a diet and to cook a food.
The tasks of all dieticians and nutritionists are almost similar, but there are a number of specialties within the occupation. Among such specialties are clinical, management and community dieticians. Clinical dieticians provide medical nutrition therapy and usually work at the clinics and hospitals. Management dieticians plan meal programs and work on their effectiveness and improving. Community dieticians, in their turn, educate people on food and nutrition topics and usually work at schools, universities and other suchlike institutions.
In order to understand all the peculiarities of this healthcare occupation better, the needed education and certification, employment and professional activities are to be studied.
Education and Certification
To become a nutritionist or a dietician one should have a bachelor degree and receive training through the internship. As to the education, a future nutritionist or dietician must have a degree in foods and nutrition, dietetics or related area of study. Nowadays, there are many programs, which include courses in physiology / biology, nutrition, and chemistry.
After the graduation from college, students who are eager to become dieticians, are to take part in supervised training. However, there are programs in nutrition and dietetics, which include this training as a part of obligatory course paper. The majority of dieticians have advanced degrees.
In many countries, dieticians as well as nutritionists are to be licensed. However, in some states of the USA only state certification or registration is required for these specialists. At the same time, some states have no state regulations at all.
In order to earn a state licensure or certification, future dieticians have to meet a list of specific requirements. First requirement is a bachelor degree (as it has been already mentioned). Second one is a supervised practice. And the last one is a successful passing of the examination. One way to become licensed is to earn the RG credential (RG – Registered Dietician), which is administrated by the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The requirements for earning this credential are almost the same, but still they are not identical in different states. To maintain the RD credential it is necessary to complete professional educational courses (Field, 1994).
In order to become a good dietician or nutritionist one should possess good analytical, organizational and speaking skills. Besides, it is very important to be able to listen to people and understand their concerns in a proper way.
Today, dieticians and nutritionists hold over 50 thousands jobs. The major part of them are placed in hospitals, care centers, nursing care facilities or offices of different health practitioners (Farr, 2001). Some dieticians work in the companies, which provide food services to colleges, universities, company cafeterias, airlines and other institutions. Other specialists work in private educational services or in community care establishments for elderly people and home healthcare services.
Some dieticians and nutritionists are self-employed and work as a consultants on hospitals, others provide dietary counseling to individuals.
Employment of the representatives of this healthcare occupation is believed to grow faster as the emphasis on disease prevention through good dietary habits has increased. A growing population is expected to force the demand for nutritional counseling in hospitals as well as in schools, prisons, home healthcare agencies, and other facilities. Apart from employment growth, many jobs will be opened because of the retirement of experienced workers, who leave the occupation because of their advanced age. Besides, public awareness of diabetes and obesity may cause the expansion of medicare coverage and as a result medical nutrition therapy will become the part of the general therapy of renal and diabetic patients. Thus, good specialists on nutrition, who have specialized training in diabetic diets should experience good employment opportunities.
According to the current situation, the dietician’s and nutrition’s occupations will remain popular and demanded at least until 2018.
Primarily, dieticians and nutritionists plan food programs and control the preparation and serving of food. One of their main tasks is to prevent illnesses by promotion of good and healthy eating habits. They recommend dietary modifications for individuals, and they usually depend on each specific case (Wischnitzer, 2005).
Dieticians manage food service systems, promote sound eating habits through education, and conduct all sorts of research. As it was mentioned in the first section of this research paper, major areas of practice include clinical, management, community, and consultant dietetics. Speaking about the professional activities of the dieticians and nutritionists, it is high time to look closer at each of these socializations.
Clinical dieticians ensure nutritional services for people in hospitals and nursing care facilities. These specialists assess clients’ nutritional needs, develop and realize individual nutrition programs and report the results. Some representatives of clinical dieticians specialize in treatment of overweight people, renal and diabetic patients. Furthermore, those clinical dieticians, who work in small hospitals and correctional establishments, may manage the food service department.
Management dieticians supervise large-scale meal planning in company cafeterias, schools, prisons, and healthcare facilities. They have a right to hire and train other dieticians and nutritionists, control the budget for buying food and equipment, and enforce safety regulations. All their work and its results are summarized in records and reports.
Among the duties of the community dietician is the counseling individual patients and groups of individuals in nutritional practices. Latter are designed for prevention disease and promotion of healthy life through proper nutrition. They work in public health clinics, health maintenance organizations, and home health agencies. Those who work in home health agencies give instructions on grocery shopping and preparation of food to the children, people with special needs and elderly people.
Finally, consultant dieticians collaborate with healthcare facilities or work in their private practice. They work for wellness programs, supermarkets, sport teams and other businesses related to nutrition.
Summing it up, the occupations of dietician and nutritionist are much demanded nowadays. They help people to remain health and treat illnesses through promoting health eating habits and diet modifications.
Dieticians work in hospitals, schools, colleges, nursing homes, and other institutions. They are classified into clinical, management, community, and consultant dieticians. Today the representatives of this healthcare occupation holds over 50, 000 jobs.
To become a dietician or nutritionist, one should have earned a bachelor degree in dietetics, nutrition or related area. Some states require licensure or certification for dieticians. Experienced specialists may either become an assistant or director of a dietetic department. It is possible also to become self-employed.
Employment of nutritionists and dieticians is growing as the demand for nutritional counseling has increased greatly.