Shadowing a DoctorApril 22, 2014
Becoming a Dietician
Are you interested in food and helping others to live healthier lifestyles? If the answer is yes, then becoming a dietician could be for you!
Dieticians specialise in using their science-based knowledge of food to design nutrition programmes for people based on their specific requirements. They focus exclusively on the impact of food on our health and aim to prevent allergic reactions, promote health and relieve the symptoms of many types of disease.
Role of a Dietician
The role of a Dietician is to help people reach optimal health and nutrition. They provide expert nutrition advice for people of all ages and provide diet planning for many conditions such as allergies, gastro-intestinal diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Dieticians also promote individual and community healthy living to prevent nutrition related problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, childhood obesity, cancer, gastroenteritis or osteoporosis. They can also be involved in the diagnosis and diet related treatment of illness or disease.
Roles of a dietician include: working with patients who have special dietary needs, educating the general public about nutrition, giving unbiased advice, as well as evaluating and improving treatment for clients, healthcare professionals and community groups.
What do dieticians do?
Dieticians look at the nutrition of their clients, researching and investigating their needs to formulate a specialised dietary plan. Part investigator and part counsellor, dieticians must also help their clients put their theory into practice.
Working with an individual patient, in the first session a dietician will ask for medical history, detailed information about your diet, what exercise you do and what your short and long term health goals are. Obtaining the client’s background information is an important step to understand their specific needs and health goals. Working as a dietician you will then create a customised meal programme with the client and potentially an exercise programme too. During the follow-up sessions a dietician works with the client to make adjustments where necessary, achieve short term and long-term health goals and monitor their progress.
Dieticians can work in hospitals, private clinical practice and the medical nutrition industry. They are also qualified to work in public health, the food industry, community nutrition, teaching and research, and food related marketing and communications.
Dieticians can work in food planning and preparation in a variety of settings. Examples of work environments include managing nutrition programmes in schools, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, other health care facilities or cafeterias. As a dietician you could also work in public health policy, public health agencies, in universities, or for government or non-government organisations such as UNICEF.
A typical working week for a dietician is 40-hours and is normally based in an office with a lot of time spent in meeting with clients or food planning in kitchens.
Personality and Skills
Dieticians can work with people as part of a team of health care professionals or with individual clients. A good dietician will have the following skills and personality traits:
– A genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of patients
– Excellent communication skills
– Patient and personable
– Ability to work in a team
– Problem-solving skills
– Excellent organisational skills
– Ability to be encouraging, empathetic and firm
– Interest in biology and nutrition
Training and Education
To practice as a dietician you need to complete a university degree approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), with a BSc in Dietetics or a post-graduate qualification approved by the HCPC.