Dietitians work with their clients to create nutritionally sound plans which are individualized and based on clients' particular needs and goals. Medical history and standings must be considered, which may require working with a client’s doctor if permission is granted.
Strong customer service and people skills are important in this position, and dieticians must be good listeners in order to truly understand what clients need and why other plans may have failed. Dieticians may work in private practice, a hospital, or an assisted living facility, and generally create meal plans which clients can follow with ease. Prior to developing a meal plan, a dietician should learn about the client's current diet in order to make necessary changes or recommend particular sources of nutrition. It may also be helpful to teach healthy eating habits so that good choices can be made.
Some dieticians may perform certain health screenings, and sessions may be on an individual or a group basis. When references to community resources are needed, dieticians should be able to provide them; maintaining a thorough network of medical providers and community resources is important in order to provide excellent customer service. It is also important to stay up-to-date in the nutrition field to incorporate new knowledge into nutrition programs.
A bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field is generally required for this position, as well as current and valid state certification.
Dietitian or Nutritionist Tasks
- Advise patients and their families on nutritional principles, diet modifications, food selection and preparation.
- Consult with physicians and health care staff to determine nutritional needs and diet restrictions of patient.
- May monitor food service operations to ensure conformance to nutritional, safety, sanitation and quality standards.
- Counsel individuals and groups on basic rules of good nutrition, healthy eating habits and nutrition monitoring.
- Screen, assess and evaluate nutritional needs, diet restrictions and current health plans to develop and implement dietary-care plans and provide nutritional counseling.