Nutritionist

Job Description

 

Nutritionists and dietitians are similar, but different by credentials. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) doesn't nationally recognize registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN), but they have introduced the RDN designation and the position is recognized on the state level where they need a license.

Like dietitians, nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. Their main function is to help patients lose weight and live healthier.

They help patients choose the right food, plan menus, and advise them on the health effects of certain foods.

Nutritionists frequently work closely with individuals who have medical issues, such as those with diabetes or those undergoing chemotherapy, to help them find the right foods to eat for their best possible health.

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Responsibilities

 

Nutritionists help their clients stay focused on losing weight and becoming healthy. They encourage them while discussing the pros and cons of their diet and exercise.

The list of responsibilities is long for a RDN and a lot of them are similar to a dietician. Here are some of their duties:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of specific diets and foods

  • May test for specific food allergies or autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease (gluten intolerance)

  • Assess patient’s current dietary habits and needs

  • Educate about healthy eating habits

  • Ensure the menus are working

  • Document a patient’s progress

  • Speak to groups about good nutrition health through food

  • Develop individualized meal plans

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Skills

 

Communication Must be able to clearly explain treatment paths and information about diet and nutrition to patients. Must correspond with other healthcare professionals if necessary for their patients. 
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing patient to make sure they are responding well to diets and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary. 
Critical Thinking Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Detail Oriented  Must be able to pinpoint small details about a nutrition plan that doesn't work or that needs to be improved. 
Complex Problem Solving Must be able to identify complex problems with nutrition or diet, and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 
Empathy Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves. Work with many people who are sensitive about their body image. 
Science Must know all about the human body and interactions it has with it's environment. Must know chemicals and reactions to foods and allergies that could arise. 
Troubleshooting Must be able to hypothesize and test different meal plans that could work for different patients and make corrections as necessary. 
Patience Must be patient with clients who have a hard time responding to treatment plans and who fall back into old habits. 

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Working Conditions

 

Nutritionists can in various settings. Many work as self-employed entrepreneurs, as well as in hospitals, clinics, schools and a variety of holistic and alternative medicine environments.

Depending on education, nutritionists can be in high demand in food and health-related businesses and work with high-end clients and sports groups. 

They usually work typical work hours and schedules. They don't need to be on-call or work nights, weekends, or holidays, unless their clients explicitly want them to work with them during these times; then it's up to the nutritionist to build their schedules.  

 

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Salary Outlook