Dietician – What Is It?


A dietitian or dietician (dietitian is the official spelling used within the dietetics profession) is an expert in food and nutrition. Dieticians help promote good health through proper eating.

They supervise the preparation and service of food, develop modified diets, participate in research, and educate individuals and groups on good nutritional habits.

In a medical setting, a dietitian may provide specific artificial nutritional needs to patients unable to consume food normally.

Dietary modification to address medical issues involving dietary intake is also a major part of dietetics.

The goals of the dietary department are to provide medical nutritional intervention, obtain, prepare, and serve flavour some, attractive, and nutritious food to patients, family members, and health care providers.

In many countries only people who have specified educational credentials can call themselves “dietitians” — the title is legally protected.

The term “nutritionist” is also widely used; however, the term nutritionist is not regulated as dietitian is. People may call themselves nutritionists without the educational and professional requirements of registered dietitians.

Different professional terms are used in different countries.Dietitians are a valuable member of the medical multi-disciplinary team providing nutritional knowledge and acting as consultants to other health care professionals.

Types Of Dietitians

The majority of dietitians are clinical, or therapeutic, dietitians.Clinical dietitians review medical charts and talk with patients’ families.

They work with other health care professionals and community groups to provide nourishment, nutritional programs and instructional presentations to benefit people of all ages, and with a variety of health conditions.

This is accomplished by developing individual plans to meet nutritional needs. These plans include nourishment, tube feedings (called enteral nutrition), intravenous feedings (called parenteral nutrition) such as total parenteral nutrition (TPN) or peripheral parenteral nutrition (PPN), diets, and education.

Clinical dietitians provide individual and group educational programs for patients and family members about their nutrition and health.

Clinical Dietitians

Clinical dietitians work in hospitals and other health care facilities to provide nutrition therapy to patients according to the disease processes provide individual dietary consultations to patients and their family members and also conduct group educations for other health workers, patients and the public.

They coordinate both medical records and nutritional needs to assess the patients and make a plan based on their findings. Some clinical dietitians have dual responsibilities with medical nutrition therapy and in foodservice, described below.

In addition, clinical dietitians in smaller facilities will also provide or create outpatient education programs.

They work as a team with the physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech therapists, social workers and nurses to provide care to the patients.

Community Dietitians

Community dietitians work with wellness programs and international health organizations. These dietitians apply and distribute knowledge about food and nutrition to specific life-styles and geographic areas.

They coordinate nutritional programs in public health agencies, daycare centers, health clubs, and recreational camps and resorts.

Some community dietitians carry out clinical based patient care in the form of home visits for patients who are too physically ill to attend consultation in health facilities.

Foodservice Dietitians

Foodservice dietitians or managers are responsible for large-scale food planning and service. They coordinate, assess and plan foodservice processes in health care facilities, school food service programs, prisons, cafeterias and restaurants.

These dietitians will also perform audits of their departments, train other food service workers and use marketing skills to launch new menus and various programs within their institution.

They direct and manage the operational and nutrition services staffs such as kitchen staffs, delivery staffs and dietary assistants or diet aides.

Gerontological Dietitians

Gerontological dietitians are specialist in nutrition and aging. They are Board certified in Gerontological Nutrition with the American Dietetic Association.

They work in government agencies in aging policy, and in a regulatory capacity in the oversight of nursing homes and community-based care facilities.

They work as Consultants in Nursing Homes, and in higher education in the field of Gerontology (the study of Aging.) Pediatric dietitians Pediatric dietitians provide health advice for persons under the age of 18.

Research Dietitians

Research dietitians are mostly involved with dietary related research in the clinical aspect of nutrition in disease states, public aspect on primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary health prevention and foodservice aspect in issues involving the food prepared for patients.

Many registered dietitians also work with the biochemical aspects of nutrient interaction within the body. Research Dietitians normally work in a hospital or university research facilities.

It should be noted that some Clinical dietitian’s roles also involve research other than the normal clinical workload. Quality improvement in dietetics services is also one area of research.

Administrative Dietitians

The Administrator, manager, or director of a dietetics department or nutrition services program acts as head of the dietitians.

They also hire, train, direct and supervise employees and manage dietary departments. Administrative dietitians may also apply procedure and policy as part of their management job.

Business Dietitians

Business dietitians serve as resource people for the media.Dietitians’ expertise in nutrition is often taped for TV, radio, and newspapers—either as an expert guest opinion, regular columnist or guest, or for resource, restaurant, or recipe development and critique.

Dietitians have served as show hosts on major television stations and as drive-time radio news anchors.

Dietitians write books, appear on television cooking channels, and author corporate newsletters on nutrition and wellness. They also work as sales representatives for food manufacturing companies that provide nutritional supplements and tube feeding supplies.

Consultant Dietitians

Consultant dietitians work under private practice. The title ‘consultant’ in this case should not be confused with the identical title given to certain medical doctors in countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The term consultant in this instance is synonymous with the title attending as used in countries such as the United States.

Consultant dietitians contract independently to provide nutrition services and educational programs to individuals, nursing homes, and in health care facilities.

As recent studies have shown the importance of diet in both preventing and managing disease, many US states have moved towards covering medical nutrition therapy under the Medicaid/Medicare making consulting a much more lucrative option for dietitians due to insurance reimbursement.

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