A career as a dietitian

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 28 November 2008.
Tagged: BMI, food safety, kilojoules, nutrients, nutrition, standard serves

A career as a dietitian

The study of dietetics is concerned with the prevention and treatment of a variety of food related diseases. Dietitians interpret scientific knowledge about food in relation to healthor an ilness and translate it into practical information to help people eat better or manage their condition via a special diet eg gluten-free diet or diabetic diet.

 

What does a dietitian do?

A dietitian understands the science and structure of food and nutrients, and their role in human health and disease. They also need to know about the nature, management and prevention of diet-related diseases, as well as the social and psychological factors influencing eating habits.

To understand the complexities of nutrition, read my post "Why nutritionists change their minds".

Dietitians spend most of their time working with people through education, counselling, advocacy or management.

Where do dietitians work?

• hospitals
• food service (hospitals, institutions, airlines, worksites, private catering)
• community health centres
• health promotion (area health service, department of health)
• government
• private practice
• consultancy
• education and training (TAFE, universities, adult education)
• food industry (manufacturers, supermarkets)
• research (universities, food companies)
• media, publishing

Areas of Interest

As a dietitian, you may have one of the following areas of interest:
• clinical nutrition
• freelance consulting
• running a private practice
• nutrition and health education
• counseling sports people
• new product development
• writing for websites, magazines & newspapers - see my latest comments and favourite articles
• food regulation and labelling
• food service
• recipe development
• planning menus
• managing a budget
• managing kitchen staff

What personal qualities are helpful in this profession?

Ideally you should:
• be interested in food and food preparation
• be interested in health and wellbeing
• have good communication skills
• be able to work as part of a team
• have an aptitude for science
• have good interpersonal skills
• have computer & IT competency

How do I become a dietitian?

To become a dietitian, it is necessary to have graduated from a course accredited by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), the professional association for dietitians in Australia.

There are currently 12 universities around Australia which offer courses for dietitians, the majority of which are 4 year undergraduate degrees. These are listed below (info from the DAA website www.daa.asn.auwith permission)

 

Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga NSW
Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Dietetics)
Four years


Curtin University of Technology Western Australia
Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics
One year post Bachelor of Science (Nutrition)
Note:  bridging course required for entrants with related degrees


Edith Cowan University Western Australia
Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics
Two years post Bachelor of Science or Health
Joondalup Campus


Deakin University Victoria
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics
Four years
Deakin Uni is the only Uni to offer Graduate Diplomas and Masters programs by off-campus study.
For further information, go to www.deakin.edu.au/hmnbs or call +61 3 9251 777


Flinders University of South Australia
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics
Two years post Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics
Four years


Griffith University Queensland
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics
Three semesters, (18 months) post Bachelor of Science


Monash University Victoria
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics
Four years


Queensland University of Technology
Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Dietetics)
Four years


The University of Newcastle NSW
Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition and Dietetics)
Four years


The University of Sydney NSW
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics
Two years post Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science (Nutrition) Honours in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics
Four years


University of Wollongong NSW
Master of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics)
Two years post Bachelor of Science
Master of Nutrition, Dietetics and Exercise Science
Two years post Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics
Four years


University of Canberra ACT
Graduate Diploma of Nutrition and Dietetics
One year
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics
Two years post Bachelor of Science


 

 

What will I study?

As a science-based career, a dietitian's knowledge is based upon human biochemistry and physiology which is then broadened to cover nutritional biochemistry, food studies, clinical nutrition, public health, communication skills and counselling.

 

Want more information?

Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)
(02) 6282 9555
The DAA sets the standards for dietetic training and provides accreditation to universities.  www.daa.asn.au

New Zealand Dietetic Association
www.dietitians.org.nz/

Otago University NZ School of Human Nutrition
New Zealand's largest school of Nutrition and Dietetics
www.otago.ac.nz/humannutrition/dietetics/

British Dietetic Association
www.bda.uk.com/

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association)
www.eatright.org  or
http://www.eatright.org/BecomeanRDorDTR/

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca/Career.aspx