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Dietitian

Dietetics is the interpretation and communication of nutrition science to enable people to make informed and practical choices about food and lifestyle in health and disease.

A dietitian will be trained in hospital and community settings as part of their course. Most dietitians are employed in the NHS, but may also work in the food industry, education, research and on a freelance basis.

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The role

Registered dietitians translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food.

They undertake the practical application of nutrition with individuals and to promote the well-being of individuals and communities to prevent nutrition related problems. They are also involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of disease.

Dietitians have a wide range of responsibilities including:

  • working with people with special dietary needs
  • informing the general public about nutrition
  • offering unbiased advice
  • evaluating and improving treatments
  • educating patients/clients, other healthcare professionals and community groups.
A variety of settings

Dietitians work in a variety of areas, many of these are in hospitals or in the community. Hospital and community dietitians educate people who need special diets as part of their medical treatment including patients with:

  • kidney disease
  • food allergies
  • eating disorders
  • diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS,

There are also opportunities for dietitians to work outside of the NHS in a variety of different areas such as:

  • food industry
  • education
  • research
  • business
  • charities
  • media
  • freelance work.

Dietitians have special skills in translating scientific and medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. They also play an important role in health promotion.

A registered dietitian needs to have an interest in science, people and food, be able to communicate with people from all areas of the community, an ability to explain complex things simply, a positive and motivating attitude and an understanding, non-discriminatory approach as well as patience and a sense of humour.

Entry requirements and training

More information on entry requirements and training.

Career prospects

You could go on to specialise in a clinical area, such as oncology or gastroenterology, or to work with particular groups, such as elderly people or those with learning difficulties. Teaching or health education are also options, or you could take on a management role, eventually being responsible for controlling a budget and planning and marketing a dietetic service.

More information about furthering your career as a dietitian.

How to apply for job vacancies

Once you have completed a pre-registration programme in dietetics and have registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, you will normally be in a position to apply for jobs.

Job vacancies for dietitians and dietetic assistants/support workers are advertised in a range of places. Most NHS trusts will advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. Some will also advertise in trade journals and on trust websites.

For a list of trusts, please visit the NHS Jobs website NHS Choices website.

Assistant dietitian/dietetic assistant

There are opportunities to work as an assistant dietitian. Staff working in a support role at a more advanced level might be known as assistant practitioners.

Nutritionist

Nutrition is differnent to dietetics. It is the study of nutrients in food, how nutrients are used by the body, and the relationship between diet, health and disease. Most of the major food manufacturers and retailers employ nutritionists and food scientists but opportunities also arise in research, education and journalism. There are a variety of careers within the field of food science and technology.

Nutritionists also have an increasing role to play in healthcare and there are opportunities to work in the NHS.

Further information

The British Dietetic Association
5th Floor, Charles House
148/149 Great Charles Street
Queensway
Birmingham
B3 3HT

Tel: 0121 200 8080
Fax: 0121 200 8081
Email: info@bda.uk.com
Website: www.bda.uk.com