As the experts in all things nutrition, dietitians are responsible for providing advice to individuals on what foods to eat in order to reach a specific health-related goal or simply lead a healthier lifestyle.
Often working alongside other healthcare professionals, dietitians are essential team members for supplying individualized diet information to coordinate patient care and improve their overall level of wellness.
Daily Duties for Dietitians:
- Evaluating patients’ health needs and diet
- Educating patients on nutritional issues related to medical conditions and teaching healthier eating habits
- Designing customized meal plans with clients’ preferences and budget in mind
- Monitoring the patients’ results and making plan changes when needed
- Promoting increased nutrition by organizing educational programs about diet, nutrition, good eating habits, and disease prevention
- Staying up-to-date on all the latest scientific research findings on nutrition
- Maintaining detailed written records on patient progress
Dietitian Job Description
What do dieticians do? Although most dietitians do similar tasks, there are several specialties in the profession. Clinical dietitians who provide medical nutrition therapy may work in hospitals, private practices, clinics, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare institutions. Dietitians may also specialize in counseling the public on nutrition topics at public health clinics, non-profit or governmental agencies, and health maintenance organizations. Management dietitians can find employment in planning meal programs for cafeterias, hospitals, schools, or prisons.
Around 11 percent of all dietitians are self-employed and work as consultants who provide advice to individual clients or are employed for healthcare institutions on a contract basis. While self-employed dietitians have the highest amounts of flexibility, most in the occupation work full-time schedules during normal business hours. Yet, some dietitians find part-time work opportunities or must work on evenings and weekends to accommodate client needs.
Skills Needed to Be a Dietitian
Most dietitians have at least a bachelor’s degree with supervised training from an internship experience in the field, but some positions will require more advanced degrees. Dietitians must also be licensed in the state of their practice by passing an examination in order to demonstrate their extensive knowledge in dietetics, foods, nutrition, food service systems, clinical nutrition, chemistry, biology, and human anatomy.
Due to their daily duties, dietitians must possess strong analytical skills to interpret scientific studies on nutrition, listening skills to understand clients’ concerns, communication skills to explain eating plans to professionals involved in patient care, and problem-solving skills to design appropriate meal plans. Dietitians must also be compassionate and empathetic when helping clients address dietary concerns as well as any related emotions.