Sodas, colas, canned juices, burger, pizza; sounds mouth-watering, isn’t it!? Many of us rely on junk food to meet our hunger pangs. But have we ever wondered what we eat is nutritious? These eating habits push us more toward health problems. To lead a healthy life, it is very important to have good health and follow a healthy diet. Common man does not get into the health facts food gives us. But a dietitian calculates each food fact and the effect it has on health.
The modus operandi of a dietitian is to care for health, keep at bay chemicals that cause harmful reactions whilst focusing to reduce disease symptoms. Dietitians and Nutritionists have the facility to work in community health sectors, as nutritionist lecturer, and freelance dietitian or nutritionist. Apart from these fields, they can also choose to work in food department, or be appointed as a nutritionist for sports players. However, working as nutritionist/dietitian in hospitals is known employment.
A dietitian and nutritionist’s work include;
The job profile of a nutritionist is to check the food and its nutritional properties which are implemented best when he/she works in the kitchen area or areas where the food is prepared. Besides this, the nutritionist can also work in hospitals, schools and other associations including foster homes. Dietitians and nutritionists have flexibility to work. While some choose to work during weekdays, few prefer to keep themselves busy on the job during weekends and holidays. They can work as per their convenience, that is, during the early hours or late night shifts.
Dietitians and nutritionists cater to the needs of individuals who are health conscious. They also meet the needs of critical patients whose diet intake are to be recorded to make room for improvement based on the medical treatment they receive. Dietitians and nutritionists prepare menus and customize recipes to check the effect of the same on the patient’s health. A dietitian in practice also keeps a check on the stock and on billing matters.
Bachelor's Program- To become a dietitian and nutritionist, one must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or preferably a master’s degree in nutrition or any health related course. Course on Bachelor of Science in Dietetics comprises of ADA approved curricula which few universities offer. This 4-year graduation program comprises of classroom teaching about clinical dietetics whilst making students eligible for practice or internship. However, students can choose among human nutrition, experimental foods, medical nutrition therapy, food service organization and quantity food production as their course.
Master’s Program- A dietitian and nutrition graduate might want to acquire a niche’ in research, public health or advanced clinical positions, for which he/she can opt for a master’s degree. Masters in the above stated streams can also be chosen by anyone who has graduated in another stream than health related course and aspires to become a dietitian and nutritionist. Master degree programs include;
In a master’s program, graduates are expected to comprehend a master’s thesis.
To practice as a dietitian and nutritionist, the governments of nearly all states mandate a licensure, certification or a registration. Obtaining a licensure is a must to practice career as dietitian and nutritionist, and the one who breaks this law is taken a strict action upon. Few states that mandate certification have their own criteria to be met by the candidate in order to achieve one.
Certification is deemed necessary when the candidate aims to be designated for a specific job title. However, graduates can still stay in practice with dietitian and nutritionist career by forgoing job title.
To be a dietitian and nutritionist, one must invest 4 years to gain a bachelor’s in dietetics, nutrition or either food science. Graduates also have the option to choose coursework among anatomy, biology, food science, organizational management, human physiology and other related courses. However, to put to practice the knowledge gained, it’s necessary to get a job after getting a license.
To practice, one can always choose from an ocean of options like to try a hand at clinics as a dietitian and nutritionist or serve schools, community or recreational centers, or health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
The average annual salary of a dietitian and nutritionist is $56,950 as per the Department of Labor. However 20% job openings for the same are anticipated by 2020 including private practice and research work.