Nutrition and Dietetics (Dietitian) Careers
Nutritionists and dietitians are health professionals who create diets for people. Teaching patients about healthy eating is a primary duty, as well as staying aware of developments in medicine and nutrition. However, there is a difference between dietetics and nutrition: dietetics focuses on food management, whereas nutrition focuses on the promotion of health through healthy food.
Nutrition and Dietetics Meaning
Dietitians: They plan, monitor, and supervise the diet for patients (with medical conditions like diabetes, food allergies, gastro-intestinal disorders etc.) across hospitals, clinics, health centres, sports centres or their own private clinics. Dietitians are responsible for recommending proper as well as corrective food and eating habits, while taking into account the patient’s health, lifestyle, age, potential allergies and food preferences.
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To be a dietitian, you need to have compulsorily completed a bachelors and/or Masters/PG diploma degree in Dietetics (in which nutrition can be an added subject.) Some countries like USA/Canada require dietitians to clear an additional exam after their education in order to qualify to get a licence/registration to practice.
Nutritionists: They can't plan diets for patients with medical problems. However they do help people achieve better health by advising on health and food choices. Their expertise lies in public health nutrition, community health, and tertiary education related to nutrition. Nutritionists can go into research as well as work as nutrition consultants and advisors, public health and health promotion officers, community development officers, quality and nutrition coordinators, food technologists etc.
A nutritionist can upgrade herself to become a dietician by studying the required dietetics course and getting a license (only in some countries.)
All dietitians can call themselves as “nutritionists” or “dietitian-nutritionist” but nutritionists cannot call themselves as “dietitians”.
Through the promotion of a healthy diet, nutritionists/dieticians try to help improve their patients’ quality of life and overall well-being. Nutritionists/dieticians also help create meal plans for institutions, which - besides hospitals and private clinics – may allow them to work in places like nursing homes, schools, prisons, community health programs and home health care agencies.
- ORGANIZATIONAL ABILITIES
- APTITUDE FOR SCIENCE
- A KEEN INTEREST IN HEALTH AND DIET
- UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE FROM VARIED BACKGROUNDS
Strong communication skills are helpful, as a large part of the job is explaining and advising patients on diet and nutritional plans, as well as motivating patients to reach for specific nutritional and dietetic goals.
And as is the case with almost every medical profession, given that nutritionists/dieticians work very closely with their patients, it is important that a dietician be compassionate, patient, motivational, and sensitive to a patient’s individual needs.
Nutrition and Dietetics Courses Eligibility Criteria
The courses in Nutrition and Dietetics are offered at diploma, undergraduate and post-graduate level. There are institutes and universities in India offering courses viz. PG Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics, B.Sc (Food Science and Nutrition) and M.Sc (Nutrition) etc. Admission to these courses is made on the basis of merit. But a few institutes/universities also conduct entrance examinations for admission.
To do the M.Sc course in Nutrition, one needs to have a basic graduate degree preferably in science. Preferable fields of graduation are: Microbiology, Chemistry, Home Science, Medicine, Hotel management or catering technology. One may also pursue a year-long PG Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics. Fresh graduates are trained by the F&B departments of hospitals. The PG Diploma course requires at minimum a degree in Science.
To do the Bachelor program in Nutrition and Dietetics, one should have completed intermediate in Science with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The B.Sc (Food Science and Nutrition) is a three year program.
How to become a Registered Dietician?
In India, in order to become a registered dietician one needs to clear the RD exam conducted by the Indian Dietetic Association (www.idaindia.com.)
And to be eligible to write this exam, you need to have:
1. B.Sc. Home Science in Foods & Nutrition (Day Scholar.)
2. Post Graduate Diploma in Nutrition & Dietetics OR M.Sc. in Foods & Nutrition (only)
(This is a 3+1 format where the candidate must have done a minimum of four years in Home Science or Foods, Nutrition& Dietetics)
3. 6 months continuous internship (or 3+3 months) from recognised hospitals listed on the IDA website OR 2 years' experience in a multispecialty hospital as a full-time dietitian.
Nutrition and Dietetics Careers
There are different types of dietitian positions: clinical dietitians, community dietitians, management dietitians, and consultant dietitians. Each of these positions offers different career options, such as food nutrition services in hospitals, nutrition counseling in public health agencies and fitness clubs or clinical management in food service systems.
Salary: Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition & Dietetics is a sophisticated career option. The professionals involved in this field are associated with the richer section of the society. Hence there is no limitation to earnings. One who works in private hospitals as trainee may get starting salary of Rs.10,000 per month and after gaining one year or more experience the salary may go up to Rs.35,000. Professionals working in research field, teaching or in food manufacturing units earn handsome salary along with other perks and benefits. However, consultant dietitians in private practice earn much more depending on their skills and reputation.
Institutes Offering Degree In Nutrition and Dietetics
The following universities are offering courses in Nutrition and Dietetics.
- National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad (PG Certificate Course in Nutrition, M. Sc (Applied Nutrition)
- University of Madras (Postgraduate diploma in nutrition & dietetics)