Dietician Job Description
Dietician work with clients to develop diets and eating plans that meet their health needs. They may create menu plans for clients or counsel individuals on better eating habits and healthier food choices. They may specialize in diets for particular medical conditions or provide overall health advice.
Dietitians work in many settings, with hospitals and medical clinics being the most common. They can also work in long-term care facilities, schools and prisons helping to ensure residents are provided with nutritious well-rounded diets. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dietitians and Nutritionists can expect to see a larger than average job growth of about 16 percent through 2024, which will add an estimated 11,000 jobs to this field. Due to the popularity of health and nutrition in today’s aging population the demand for dietitians is expected to increase steadily.
Dietician Duties and Responsibilities
The type of facility a Dietitian works for will greatly determine their duties and responsibilities. There are, however, several common primary duties nearly all Dietitians can expect to perform. A review of current job listings identified the following main responsibilities.
Provide Medical Nutrition Therapy
Dietitians work to treat and prevent diseases in patients and clients by tailoring their diets to meet necessary nutritional requirements. They will typically spend time with their patients to establish their eating habits and current diet. They will then provide a nutrition treatment plan specific to the patient’s needs. They will then have regular meetings with their patients to help ensure the patient is adhering to the plan, any questions they have are answered and any adjustments to the diet that may be needed are made.
A Dietitian is expected to keep detailed records on their patients. This may require updating a patient’s medical chart or recording their information in a software database. The nutritional assessments, dietary instructions, menu plans and progress notes should be added after each visit to ensure a complete record of the patient’s health is captured.
While a Dietitian is not likely to handle food preparations themselves, they must be able to guide and assist cafeteria staff or food vendors in making healthier and more nutritious fare. They may provide them with sample menu plans, suggest alternative foods and beverages to be served or provide basic training in how to create well-balanced meals. Depending on the type of facility a Dietitian works for, this may be one of their main duties and supervising the food preparation staff may be their responsibility as well.
Dietitians must be passionate about food and nutrition and have a real desire to assist others. They should possess excellent written and verbal communication skills and work well with others. In addition to these traits, employers look for applicants with the following skillsets.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Dietitians with these core skills. If you want to work as a Dietitian, focus on the following.
- Basic computer skills
- Registered dietitian by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
- Experience creating nutrition plans and menus
- Experience working in a healthcare or food serving environment
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your repertoire of skills and broaden your career options.
- Experience with Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)
- Degree in nutrition or related field
- Licensed in CPR and first aid
There are more helpful and informational resources available on the Web for those interested in becoming a Dietitian. We scoured the internet and found these links full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news.
On the Web
Commission on Dietetic Registration – This is the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is the recognized standard credential for Registered Dietitians.
Today’s Dietitian – This website is dedicated to Today’s Dietitian, a magazine designed for nutrition professionals. Full of resourceful articles and industry news, it is a great read for those interested in or part of the nutrition industry.
Dietitian Central – The Dietitian’s one stop for everything industry related. This site provides job listings, continuing education, forums and health articles to assist Dietitians with their job.
@DietitianJanel – Registered Dietitian, Janel Ovrut Funk, tweets all about nutrition, health and ways to be active.
@jlevinsonrd –Jessica Levinson is a Registered Dietitian and creator of a nutrition recipe website. Follow her feed for tips and advice on healthy eating and tasty nutritious recipes.
The Clinical Dietitian’s Essential Pocket Guide – This convenient pocket-sized book provides Dietitians with overviews and samples of common tasks such as nutritional assessments and menu planning for specific diseases.
American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide – This popular guide offers the latest healthy eating advice people of all ages and in every stage of life.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Founded in 1917, the Academy is the largest organization for food and nutrition professionals.
International Confederation off Dietetic Associations – ICDA has members in over 40 countries and is widely recognized as the international organization for dietetic professionals.
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