Dietetic Technician - Job Description, Duties, Education, Skills, Salary, & Growth

Dietetic Technician


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Job Description

Our dietary intake has a significant impact on our overall health. Making changes in our diet can help reduce our risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other debilitating diseases. Each year more research goes into the realm of nutrition and its health benefits which highlights the effort of healthcare professionals who assist and educate patients about the benefits and importance of taking care of themselves through proper nutrition methods.

With the help of a Dietetic Technician, people can learn to take control of their health. Dietetic Technicians can help people understand how to make better choices regarding their food choices and understand the importance of following a food plan that they've had custom developed for them. In addition, Dietetic Technician assist in a variety of ways throughout the healthcare facility and hospital. Dietetic Technicians play a crucial role in helping patients with their dietary and nutritional needs as part of their job description.

People in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities may have special nutritional needs, and Dietetic Technicians assist them with following the Physician's orders and nutritional guidelines, by giving them a nutritional meal plan and helping them understand what they can and cannot eat. Dietary Technicians are also responsible for assisting patients with understanding what their meal plan looks like, why they need to closely follow their nutrition recommendations and ways that they can make it easier on themselves with their treatment plan.

Another important piece of a Dietetic Technician's job description is to work closely with Nutritionists and Dietitians to assist patients and get them on the pathway to a healthy lifestyle by making systematic changes. Dietetic Technicians work closely under the supervision of dietitians to plan appropriate menus and prepare the food their patients needs.

Dietetic Technicians also assist other hospital and healthcare facility staff with the preparation in the food service program and nutritional program meals. This means that a large chunk of a Dietetic Technician's job is to be the resource that a Nutritionist or Dietitian needs whenever they need it, which means that they might have to do a variety of roles at any point in the day.

One of those ways that Dietetic Technicians assist throughout the day is the planning of those patient meals with Nutritionists and Dietitians. The great thing about the healthcare environment is that it is a collaborative environment, and one of the key parts of a Dietetic Technician's job description is to be open to bouncing ideas back and forth with those supervising Nutritionists and Dietitians.

Dietetic Technicians will interact with Nutritionists and Dietitians back and forth as they try to come up with the ideal meal plan for each patient. Sometimes those recommendations and requests will come from the patients themselves, and other times the Dietetic Technician will take note of their eating habits and recommend potential changes.

The next part of a Dietetic Technician's job description is to assist patients with understanding the importance of living a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition. Sometimes patients are attempting to eat healthy for the first time, and in other scenarios, they just need to switch up their routine a bit. For each patient, Dietetic Technicians will need to assess their knowledge and educate them or advise them on how they can improve their nutrition and follow the recommendations of their Nutritionist or Dietitian at the same time.

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Responsibilities

Dietetic technicians are trained in nutrition and understand how the foods and drinks we consume can influence our health. The first responsibility for Dietetic Technicians throughout their career is to help develop and prepare tasty and nutritious meals that satisfy dietary requirements and restrictions for people who suffer from food allergies or other special dietary needs. Each patient will have their own dietary recommendations that they need to closely follow, as it will help them speed up their recovery and improve their lifestyle. Part of developing and preparing tasty meals are two-fold for Dietetic Technicians.

The first part is that Dietetic Technicians will work hand in hand with their supervising Nutritionist or Dietitian to understand what a patient needs based on their recommendations. Dietitians and Nutritionists have spent thousands of hours training and enhancing their education as it relates to the importance of proper nutrition, meal plans, and more. They come up with individualized plans or nutrition guidelines for each patient, and Dietetic Technicians work hand in hand with them to make sure that the patient follows the guidelines, or adapts over time based on the feedback that a Dietetic Technician provides to the supervising Physician.

The second part of developing and preparing the meals as a Dietetic Technician involves working with the food service and nutritional programs, which might sometimes involve working in a cafeteria from time to time. Dietetic Technicians will work with the food service and nutritional programs to make sure that the proper food is being cooked, that patients are being delivered the proper meal plans, and that any additional concerns like food allergies are being taken into consideration.

The next responsibility that Dietetic Technicians have in their role is to educate both patients and clients about the importance of eating healthy. This involves educating them about ways their current nutrition might be slacking. In other cases, Dietetic Technicians will also act as their personal champion when they do start to change their nutrition habits or have been following their meal plan. In other cases, Dietetic Technicians will also strive to educate patients about the different effects that food might have on them and their bodies.

Our bodies react in different ways to food. As an example, our bodies break down food at different rates depending on their chemical composition, and that means our bodies will use that food for energy at different rates. Sometimes a patient might have a certain food allergy or a reaction that will massively overhaul their diet, and they will have to understand that their new nutrition and meal plan will be impacted based on the new food's composition.

Dietetic Technicians will help educate patients about the benefits and drawbacks of certain food and food groups as well. There are certainly benefits to eating certain foods, but it's important to have a healthy balance as well — and those are the kind of topics that Dietetic Technicians help patients understand.

In addition to educating a patient about their meal plan, nutrition guidelines, nutrition topics, and more; Dietetic Technicians will also help educate a patient's family members. Changing a patient's dietary structure and eating habits can often take a team effort, and that includes those family members who are closest to a patient. Family members can help a patient stay accountable and become accustomed to making more informed dietary plans and nutrition changes. They might also be unfamiliar with some of the reasons behind why a nutrition switch is necessary, and the benefits of that switch. This is where Dietetic Technicians come into play.

The next responsibility of educating others on proper nutritional guidelines are other healthcare professionals. Dietetic Technicians will often act as the liaison between healthcare professionals and the patient. Dietetic Technicians working for hospitals or clinics find themselves gathering information and coordinating with medical staff to provide patients with the correct diet.

Due to the fact that the healthcare industry is so massive and there are a ton of inner-working parts, everyone needs to be on the same page. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, Dietetic Technicians need to communicate effectively with each member that might be involved with the nutrition and dietary meal plans and nutritional guidelines that a patient has to follow, to ensure the patient is getting all the things they need to recover properly.

Part of the responsibility associated with coordinating with other healthcare professionals and dietary staff is also educating them in the same way that both patients and their family members need education. Dietary staff might be asking some questions about why they have to follow certain guidelines or some nutrition guidelines that have been set for a patient which are outside of the norm. The next responsibility that Dietetic Technicians have is to actually work closely with the dietary staff to produce the meals and help prepare the major meals that are key to a patient following the nutrition plan set out for them.

Another responsibility that Dietetic Technicians have is to conduct thorough patient nutritional assessments. This involves interviewing patients, asking them to highlight what they've eaten for the last week or so, and more. By interviewing patients, they might say they tend to eat a certain way, but then their nutritional log states another. For instance, they might say that they eat really healthy, but then when you ask them to fill out a log of the food that they've eaten in the last week, you notice that they've eaten a lot of fast food and had their fill of soda.

This nutritional assessment helps create a baseline and an understanding of where each patient stands, and what particular nutritional challenges might present themselves as you care for them. The second component of collecting some information from a patient involves getting some significant medical information from them and their family members. All of this helps a Dietetic Technician come up with the baseline for the nutritional assessment they need to craft.

In addition, Dietetic Technicians help identify what a patient's normal routine and fitness regimen might be. Sometimes a patient is overworking themselves and they aren't getting the nutrition they need, which is causing significant issues in their health. Dietetic Technicians are responsible for analyzing all of the patient's data to understand what their nutritional needs might be, what their nutritional goals should be, and establish what a potential treatment plan might be.

The next responsibility that Dietetic Technicians have is to research new food, analyze different food service systems, evaluate nutrition techniques, and then assist in various procedures for Nutritionists and Dietitians. Dietetic Technicians are always on the lookout for new food that might assist patients to achieve their nutritional goals with more ease. Unfortunately, there isn't a one-stop-shop for everyone's nutritional needs, but there are certain foods that are fantastic for helping a patient get a helping of good nutrition with a few bites.

Dietetic Technicians are also responsible for evaluating new nutrition techniques and tricks that will help patients follow their treatment plan more efficiently, and without much hassle. Many patients assume that switching their nutritional routine is some massive undertaking, but in reality, it only takes a few simple changes every now and then. Making those changes requires that each patient is informed. The more informed a patient is about their nutrition plan, their treatment plan, and the emphasis on why following that plan is important; the more likely they are to stick to it and get back on the pathway to a healthy lifestyle. This is why it's important for Dietetic Technicians to educate their patients about how simple changes can have a massive impact in the long run.

Often times these simple changes are things like changing out what you drink for a meal most days during the week. Instead of drinking a carbonated beverage like pop or soda, replace it with water. Instead of having chips for a snack, have some fruits or vegetables instead. These simple changes are all it takes to live a healthier lifestyle and follow a nutrition plan.

The next thing that Dietetic Technicians are responsible for is to assist with the monitoring of patients and keep track of their food intake and their nutritional progress. Sometimes this might be on routine visits or during their primary care stays.

Depending on where some Dietetic Technicians are employed some additional duties may vary. If a Dietitian is working for a food company, Dietetic Technicians work to improve sanitation, maintain food safety practices, perform nutritional analyses, and assist in the creation of food labels.

Another option for Dietetic Technicians is private practice. In this case, the Dietetic Technician would help develop healthy menus for private patients on an individual basis and as part of an overall treatment regimen.

To learn more about what it takes to become a Dietetic Technician, take a look at our Dietetic Technician Career Path.

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Common Activities On The Job

For those individuals who are passionate about potentially becoming a Dietetic Technician, a brief glimpse into the normal routine might offer more information as to whether or not becoming a Dietetic Technician is a career you'd like to pursue. We've outlined some of the top activities you can expect to perform each day.

Gather Information

The most common activity that Dietetic Technicians can expect to perform each day. Dietetic Technicians will frequently interact with healthcare professionals, patients, and a patient's family members to gather as much information as they can. Whether it's to gather information about what might be ailing a patient, or gathering information from all other healthcare professionals as it relates to the care for patients; Dietetic Technicians can expect to gather information each day.

Organize and Plan Activities

The next common activity that Dietetic Technicians can expect to do each day is to organize and plan their activities. The healthcare industry has a ton of moving parts, and Dietetic Technicians need to know exactly what they're doing and when they're doing it. This is crucial to ensuring that patient schedules don't fall behind and Dietetic Technicians don't become overwhelmed with the amount of work they need to do.

Monitor Patient Progress

Another common activity that Dietetic Technicians should expect to do each day, is to monitor patient progress. Part of a Dietetic Technician's role is to update their supervising Dietitian or Nutritionist on their patient's progress and to accurately do that Dietetic Technicians need to regularly check in with each patient.

Communicate With Others

The next common activity that Dietetic Technicians have each day is to communicate with others. The most common communication that Dietetic Technicians can expect to do includes communicating with healthcare professionals, patients, and the patient's family members.

Educate and Coach Patients

One activity that makes up a large chunk of a Dietetic Technician's day is to educate and coach patients. Unfortunately, nutrition is often a foreign subject for most patients and their family members. Switching their diet and sticking to it can be a tall task that many patients will struggle with initially. But with a Dietetic Technician coaching them along the way, that lifestyle change can be a little bit easier.

Document and Record Information

The next thing that Dietetic Technicians will do day-in and day-out is to document and record information. Accurate patient records and medical information is king in the healthcare industry, and Dietetic Technicians will have to document their daily routine, patient interactions, progress, and more each day.

Analyze Data

The next thing that Dietetic Technicians are responsible for each day is to analyze data that they're presented with. Sometimes Dietetic Technicians will be tasked with analyzing the data they've collected, and other times they'll be tasked with analyzing the information their supervising Dietitian or Nutritionist gives them. Analyzing data is a critical aspect of a Dietetic Technician's day, which means that Dietetic Technicians need to be comfortable looking at information and evaluating what they need to do with it when the time comes.

Advance Education

The next part of working as a Dietetic Technician means that healthcare professionals continue to advance their education. In most healthcare roles, Dietetic Technicians are tasked with advancing their education through continuing education credits and training seminars to ensure that they are practicing and using the most efficient education and training tools available in their role.

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Skills

Good communication skills are required for those dietetic technicians who work directly with patients. They must be able to cope with sick people.

Dietetic technicians work as part of the health care team, so teamwork is essential in the collaboration with other health care providers.

Highly developed senses of smell and taste, along with a strong sense of creativity, help the dietetic technician prepare menus that patients enjoy.

Because the incidence of injury is to be avoided and contamination is an ever-present issue, dietetic technicians must adhere to strict standards of cleanliness and safety.

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Working Conditions

Organizations that are responsible for feeding large groups of people, including those with special and specific dietary requirements, employ dietetic technicians.

These potential areas of employment opportunities can include:

  • Hospitals

  • Retirement communities

  • Nursing homes

  • Corporate cafeterias

  • Health organizations

  • Food companies

  • Public and private schools

  • Prisons

The work environment will vary, depending on the nature of the dietetic technician’s position. In large institutional kitchens, the working environment can be hot and steamy.

Employees are expected to spend a great deal of time on their feet. Minor one-the-job cooking related injuries are common, such as knife cuts, eye irritations and burns.

Still other dietetic technicians find work in administrative complexes, offices or government agencies.

The hours worked can vary, depending on whether the employee is involved directly in food preparation.

Hours can include early morning duties, as well as holidays and weekends. Part-time positions are attractive to many dietetic technicians.

They may also find employment in schools, weight management clinics, day care centers, government agencies and prisons.

Employment opportunities are expected in nursing homes, physician clinics and residential care facilities.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
09.24.2019
Duke University Hospital is consistently rated as one of the best in the United States and is known around the world for its outstanding care and groundbreaking research. Duke University Hospital has 957 inpatient beds and offers comprehensive...
10.07.2019
Duke University Hospital is consistently rated as one of the best in the United States and is known around the world for its outstanding care and groundbreaking research. Duke University Hospital has 957 inpatient beds and offers comprehensive...
09.24.2019
Duke University Hospital is consistently rated as one of the best in the United States and is known around the world for its outstanding care and groundbreaking research. Duke University Hospital has 957 inpatient beds and offers comprehensive...
09.24.2019
Duke University Hospital is consistently rated as one of the best in the United States and is known around the world for its outstanding care and groundbreaking research. Duke University Hospital has 957 inpatient beds and offers comprehensive...
08.08.2019
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09.19.2019
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05.13.2019
Under the direction of the F&N Supervisor, Team Leader, F&N Coordinator and/or Director. The Dietetic Aide performs a variety of patient foodservice and dishroom duties which include, transporting food carts to and from nursing units,...
09.30.2019
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10.21.2019
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06.17.2019
Provide food and nutrition services in acute and long term care for CaroMont Regional Medical Center patients/ residents under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian. Responsibilities include: obtaining and reviewing patient/ resident menus for...
07.08.2019
Dietetic Assistants may be assigned a variety of fundamental food service duties. Typical assignments include patient tray line (meal assembly), dish room, utilities (floors and trash), cafeteria server, and cold food production. In addition, the...
10.16.2019
Dietetic Assistants may be assigned a variety of fundamental food service duties. Typical assignments include patient tray line (meal assembly), dish room, utilities (floors and trash), cafeteria server, and cold food production. In addition, the...
03.25.2019
Dietetic Assistants may be assigned a variety of fundamental food service duties. Typical assignments include patient tray line (meal assembly), dish room, utilities (floors and trash), cafeteria server, and cold food production. In addition, the...
12.28.2018
Dietetic Assistants may be assigned a variety of fundamental food service duties. Typical assignments include patient tray line (meal assembly), dish room, utilities (floors and trash), cafeteria server, and cold food production. In addition, the...
10.16.2019
Dietetic Assistants may be assigned a variety of fundamental food service duties. Typical assignments include patient tray line (meal assembly), dish room, utilities (floors and trash), cafeteria server, and cold food production. In addition, the...
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