Dietitian - How to Become a Dietitian

Dietitian

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Dietitian Job Description

 

Dietitians are essential in designing nutrition programs to protect health, alleviate the symptoms of some types of diseases, and to prevent allergic reactions. They are the experts in understanding the importance of nutrition as the foundation of good health, from conception to old age.

Clinical dietitians may specialize in one or more of the following areas:

  • Management of overweight patients

  • Nutritional needs of critically ill patients

  • Dietary demands of patients with kidney disease and diabetes

  • Management of food service departments in areas such as nursing care facilities, small hospitals or correctional facilities

Depending on specialty and their workplace, dietitian can have a wide array of duties that they are responsible for on a regular basis.

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Responsibilities

 

Dietitians focus their attention on the impact that food has on our health. They provide medical nutrition therapy for patients in such settings as hospitals and nursing care facilities. As a member of the health care team, a dietitian is responsible for assessing the nutritional needs of patients, developing and implementing nutritional programs, and evaluating and reporting on the results of these interventions. Dietitians work in consultation with doctors and other health care professionals to coordinate dietary needs and medical requirements.

Community registered dietitians (RD) develop nutrition programs that target particular groups of people to promote health and prevent disease. RDs who work as community dietitians may be employed in settings such as fitness centers, public health clinics, home health agencies or corporate wellness programs. When working in home health agencies or corporate wellness programs, dietitians provide instruction on grocery shopping and food preparation. Many dietitians focus on education of the elderly or individuals with special needs and children.

Increased public awareness of the importance of nutrition has led to employment opportunities in areas such as food manufacturing, marketing and advertising. Dietitians working in these areas are generally responsible for analyzing foods, preparing literature for public distribution, or reporting on issues such as the nutritional value of recipes, the amount of dietary fiber a food contains, or efficacy of vitamin supplements.

Dietitians in management roles oversee large-scale meal planning and the preparation of meals in health care facilities, in company cafeterias, in prisons and in schools. These dietitians also hire, train and supervise other dietitians and food service employees. They are responsible for budgeting for and purchasing food, dietary equipment and necessary supplies. They must enforce sanitary and safety regulations, and prepare expected records and reports.

Some dietitians work under contract as consultants with health care facilities or in their own private practice. These dietitians perform nutritional assessments for their clients and give them advice about diet-related concerns, such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction. Other dietitians find employment in wellness programs, supermarkets, sports teams and other businesses related to nutrition. They often consult with food service managers to provide expertise in safety procedures, sanitation, budgeting, menu development and planning.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 

Perceptiveness

Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

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Working Conditions

 

Dietitians work to oversee food planning and preparation in a variety of settings. They may work in schools, prisons, health care facilities and company cafeterias to manage nutrition programs. Dietitians can find employment opportunities in public health agencies where they are instrumental in influencing policies related to health and nutrition. They also do similar work in universities, where they educate students about nutrition and health. Most dietitians work a standard 40-hour week and are usually based out of an office with time spent in institutional kitchens and in meetings.

 


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How to Become a Dietitian:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

A four-year college degree with a major in dietetics is required to become a registered dietitian (RD). There are two types of programs available:

  • A didactic program involves classroom instruction during college, followed by a field internship for one-year

  • A coordinated program in dietetics requires both classroom instruction and 900 hours of supervised practice

Before enrolling, ensure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)

 

Find Approved Registered Dietitian Programs

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum:

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • Nutrition I

  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • General Chemistry II & Lab

  • Psychology I

  • Pre-Calculus

  • Calculus I

  • English I

  • English II

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Human Physiology

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Nutrition II

  • Microbiology I

  • Life Span Nutrition

  • Statistics I

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Physiological Chemistry

  • Foodservice Operations Management

  • Communication I

  • Medical Terminology

  • Technical Writing

  • Food Preservation and Packaging

  • Vitamins and Minerals

  • Energy, Metabolism, and Metabolic Integration

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Senior Year

  • Food & Nutrition in the Community

  • Foodservice Systems Management

  • Professional Issues in Dietetics 

  • Clinical Nutrition I

  • Clinical Nutrition II

  • Nutrition Counseling 

  • Interpreting Current Nutrition Research

  • Nutrition Counseling

  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Complete an ACEND-Accredited Supervised Practice Program (6 - 12 Months)

 

ACEND offers two pathways to the completion of 1200 supervised practice hours: 

  • Accredited Dietetic Internship - Completed separate from a bachelor's degree

  • Accredited Coordinated Program - Completed alongside a bachelor's degree.

These options allow candidates some measure of flexibility when seeking to become a registered dietitian. 

 

Search for a Supervised Practice Program

 

For more information, check out the Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dietitians.

 

3. Take the Registration Examination for Dietitians

 

Upon graduation, successful completion of the Registration Examination for Dietitians is required to become a registered dietitian. Candidates may not register individually. Upon completion of a supervised practice program, the director will submit the eligible candidates to CDR for registration.

CDR does not allow individuals to contact directly.

 

The exam is broken down in the following sections:

 

Section/Category

% of Exam

Food and Nutrition 

Food Science & Nutrition Composition of Foods

Nutrition & Supporting Sciences

 

12%

Nutrition Care Process & Model - Simple & Complex Conditions

Nutrition Screening & Assessment

Nutrition Diagnosis

Normal Intervention

Medical Monitoring & Evaluation

 

40%

Counseling, Communication, Education & Research

Assessment & Planning

Implementation & Evaluation

Research

 

10%

Foodservice Systems

Menu Planning

Procurement, Production, Distribution & Service

Sanitation & Safety

Facility Planning

 

17%

Management

Human Resources

Finance & Materials

Marketing Products & Services

Functions & Characteristics

Quality Improvement

 

21%

 

Specialized areas of practice, such as renal nutrition or pediatric dietetics, nutritional support and diabetes education can be obtained with additional certification. This type of certification is awarded through CDR, the agency for credentialing through the ADA. Certification is also available through other medical or nutritional organizations. These specialized certifications are recognized within the professional community but are not required for entry into or maintenance of registration.

 

Find Specialized Certifications

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
02.22.2017
PRN Dietitian position. Includes every third weekend on-call. JOB SUMMARY: The primary responsibility of the Clinical Dietitian is to provide the highest quality of service at all times. Other responsibilities include screening and assessing the...
02.22.2017
Job Summary: Under general supervision of the Food Services Director and the Chief Dietitian, the Registered Dietitian visits hospital patients to monitor diet tolerance and acceptance; counsels patients or families on specific diets as ordered;...
02.22.2017
The Oncology Dietitian will work with the following age groups based upon individual responsibility, training, and competency: Adults (age 18 years- 64 years) and Geriatrics (age 65 + years) This position is responsible for working with patients...
02.07.2017
Provides optimal nutritional care by effectively identifying age specific patient needs, assessing nutritional status, designing appropriate care plans and monitoring to maximize clinical outcomes. Provides evidence-based nutritional information...
02.22.2017
The Clinical Registered Dietitian is responsible for patient care activities - assesses nutritional needs, develops and implements nutritional care plans and participates in patient/staff education and quality assurance activities. The Clinical...
12.08.2016
CLINICAL DIETITIAN
02.22.2017
POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
02.22.2017
POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
02.22.2017
POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
02.22.2017
Bachelor of Science Will be responsible for comprehensive diabetes education as part of an ADA accredited program. Works on multiple diabetes related grant projects. Daily travel required to outlying clinics/areas. Bachelor's degree in Food...
02.22.2017
Interacts as a member of the patient focused care team, uses the patient care process (assesses, plan, implement and evaluate for individual patients) in determining nutrition interventions for patients across the continuum of care and ensures...
02.22.2017
The Clinical Dietitian delivers Medical Nutrition Therapy in the in-patient and out-patient settings. This position reports to the Lead Clinical Dietitian and operates within established organizational and departmental policies and procedures....
02.22.2017
The Clinical Dietitian delivers Medical Nutrition Therapy in the in-patient and out-patient settings. This position reports to the Lead Clinical Dietitian and operates within established organizational and departmental policies and procedures....
02.22.2017
- Bachelors Degree Required Under the direction of the Director of Food Service, the Clinical Dietitian plans, directs, and provides all aspects of nutritional care; conducts employee inservice programs, and is responsible for all Quality...
02.23.2017
Department: Primary CareA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Facilitates and upholds the goals and objectives of the Medical Center and the Dietary Department.Plans, directs, and coordinates quality patient nutrition care for inpatients,...
  1. DIETITIAN Stillwater, OK Stillwater Medical Center
    PRN Dietitian position. Includes every third weekend on-call. JOB SUMMARY: The primary responsibility of the Clinical Dietitian is to provide the highest quality of service at all times. Other responsibilities include screening and assessing the...
  2. DIETITIAN Tifton, GA Tift Regional Medical Center
    Job Summary: Under general supervision of the Food Services Director and the Chief Dietitian, the Registered Dietitian visits hospital patients to monitor diet tolerance and acceptance; counsels patients or families on specific diets as ordered;...
  3. Dietitian Cookeville, TN Cookeville Regional Medical Center
    The Oncology Dietitian will work with the following age groups based upon individual responsibility, training, and competency: Adults (age 18 years- 64 years) and Geriatrics (age 65 + years) This position is responsible for working with patients...
  4. Dietitian Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Provides optimal nutritional care by effectively identifying age specific patient needs, assessing nutritional status, designing appropriate care plans and monitoring to maximize clinical outcomes. Provides evidence-based nutritional information...
  5. Dietitian Slidell, LA Slidell Memorial Hospital
    The Clinical Registered Dietitian is responsible for patient care activities - assesses nutritional needs, develops and implements nutritional care plans and participates in patient/staff education and quality assurance activities. The Clinical...
  6. CLINICAL DIETITIAN Cincinnati, OH TriHealth
    CLINICAL DIETITIAN
  7. Clinical Dietitian Jackson, MS Baptist Health Systems
    POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
  8. Clinical Dietitian Jackson, MS Baptist Health Systems
    POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
  9. Clinical Dietitian Jackson, MS Baptist Health Systems
    POSITION SUMMARY Plan and deliver nutritional care of patients in accordance with the physician's diagnosis and requirements of regulatory agencies. Functions as a member of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to develop implement and...
  10. Dietitian (Exempt) Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    Bachelor of Science Will be responsible for comprehensive diabetes education as part of an ADA accredited program. Works on multiple diabetes related grant projects. Daily travel required to outlying clinics/areas. Bachelor's degree in Food...
  11. Clinical Dietitian St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Interacts as a member of the patient focused care team, uses the patient care process (assesses, plan, implement and evaluate for individual patients) in determining nutrition interventions for patients across the continuum of care and ensures...
  12. Clinical Dietitian Northampton, MA Cooley Dickinson Hospital
    The Clinical Dietitian delivers Medical Nutrition Therapy in the in-patient and out-patient settings. This position reports to the Lead Clinical Dietitian and operates within established organizational and departmental policies and procedures....
  13. Clinical Dietitian Northampton, MA Cooley Dickinson Hospital
    The Clinical Dietitian delivers Medical Nutrition Therapy in the in-patient and out-patient settings. This position reports to the Lead Clinical Dietitian and operates within established organizational and departmental policies and procedures....
  14. Clinical Dietitian Vincennes, IN Good Samaritan Hospital
    - Bachelors Degree Required Under the direction of the Director of Food Service, the Clinical Dietitian plans, directs, and provides all aspects of nutritional care; conducts employee inservice programs, and is responsible for all Quality...
  15. Dietitian Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Primary CareA Life-Changing CareerResponsibilities: Facilitates and upholds the goals and objectives of the Medical Center and the Dietary Department.Plans, directs, and coordinates quality patient nutrition care for inpatients,...