Nutrition assistants are responsible for coordinating nutritional programs and assisting patients with nutritional initiatives, as well as helping dietitians with patient assessments and developing nutritional programs based on patients' needs. They should work well in a team setting with other assistants to share important information, but also on their own with minimal supervision, and they typically report their progress to the dietitian in charge.
Nutrition assistants are tasked with conducting anthropometric measurements to gain more insight into patients' conditions, food intake, and background while taking into account cultural and economic factors in the process. Strong communication skills are important in this position to relay nutrition ideas to patients and their families, and they use a personal computer to record information regarding patients' eating habits, weight, height, and other important health information. They also conduct physical assessments to determine the best course of action and may distribute menus and provide diet prescriptions based on previous examinations. They may individualize patients' information when necessary and collect meal information based on caloric requirements, and typically work in an office or medical environment. They must follow strict protocols to protect patients' privacy and also help distribute nutrition literature, explain changes in dietary habits, and coordinate with nurses and doctors to reach a better understanding of a patient's improvement after nutritional treatment. They may also provide guidance in-person or over the phone regarding nutrition and diet.
An associate’s degree in dietetics or a related field is generally required for this position, and prior experience in the field is highly beneficial. Industry certifications are also helpful.
Nutritional Assistant Tasks
Refer participants to health care and community services.
Determine eligibility food assistance.
Interview patients to evaluate dietary histories of individuals to plan nutritional programs.
Provide guidance and educational materials for food selection and menu planning based upon nutritional needs and established guidelines.