Dietetics, the field of nutrition, health and the application of science-based nutrition knowledge offers a variety of distinctive career opportunities that goes beyond the usual view of the dietitian as someone who simply helps others lose weight. If you have interests in health, food, healthy lifestyle and science, you may well find your niche in this growing profession.
Dietitians may work in a variety of settings with different areas of focus:
like other health professionals, dietitians can set themselves up to consult privately with patients who need advice on nutrition therapy and support to make healthy eating a lifestyle change.
known as clinical dietitians, these practitioners primarily work in hospitals consulting with patients who are referred to them by doctors or other healthcare professionals. Their role in a patient care team is to assess and individualise nutrition therapy (whether an appropriate special diet, tube feed or intravenous feed) as an integral part of recovery or palliative care.
these dietitians may be employed in the public sector, or by NGOs or community-based organisations. Their focus is generally on the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding; growth monitoring and the prevention of malnutrition; nutrition promotion and education; promotion of healthy lifestyles to address these dietitians may be employed in the public sector, or by NGOs or community-based organisations. Their focus is generally on the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding; growth monitoring and the prevention of malnutrition; nutrition promotion and education; promotion of healthy lifestyles to address non- communicable diseases; prevention and treatment of vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and addressing food insecurity issues.
dietitians also work in food service management providing healthy and specialised diets to people living in institutions such as senior homes, school hostels, welfare care centres, prisons and health care facilities. Their work includes planning, costing and developing menus; controlling implementing, evaluating and overseeing food service systems; and managing special dietary requirements.
there are varied roles for dietitians in the food, retail, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. They may advise on current food labelling legislation, nutrition regulations and the nutritional analysis of food items; be involved in product development; share latest developments and trends in nutrition; participate in nutrition-related marketing activities; lead corporate wellness programmes and conduct literature reviews.
dietitians employed by educational institutions are involved in continuously providing new evidence-based nutrition information through on-going research and teaching and are responsible for the training of new nutrition professionals.
in the Information Age, there is an opportunity for dietitians, who have important knowledge to share, to generate expert content providing nutrition advice, latest evidenced-based nutrition news and views, commentary on nutrition issues and inspiration for healthy eating.
Do you have what it takes?
Maryke advises that a career in dietetics will suit those who:
- are interested in food and health
- enjoy and have a flair for Science
- would be fulfilled by a caring, helping profession
- are lifelong learners who are attentive to the on-going developments in Science
- are able to translate scientific knowledge into practical advice
- are comfortable in the role of the expert and like sharing knowledge with others
- have strong inter- and intrapersonal skills
- have a positive attitude and the ability to motivate others
- have empathy, understanding and tact