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How to become a Dietitian

dietitian careers

What does a Dietitian do?

In hospitals, dietitians give advice regarding diet, nutrition and health to patients with a variety of medical conditions. They may work in one or more specialist area, for example, diabetes, children's health, or cancer. They run outpatient clinics for those with food allergies and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Dietitians may also work with the catering department, making sure the hospital menu is healthy, tasty and nutritious and that suitable meals are available for patients with particular dietary needs.

In the community, dietitians are part of a primary health care team, working alongside GPs and health visitors to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating. This work can include giving talks or one-to-one consultations. They advise people whose problems may be linked to lack of confidence, depression or low-income budget.

In the food industry, they help to develop new products and calculate their nutritional value. Working in the marketing and advertising department, they help to write advertisements and produce information to promote products, checking that what is said is correct from a nutritional point of view.

Working in public relations, dietitians may represent their company by putting its point of view to the media; for example, working for a soft drinks manufacturer, they might appear on television to talk about the product.

What's the working environment like working as a Dietitian?

Dietitians in the NHS work 37.5 hours a week, with some on-call and stand-by work, usually on a Saturday. Part-time work is available.

Dietitians work in consulting rooms attached to clinics, health centres and hospitals. Travel may be involved and a driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Dietitian?

To be a dietitian, you should:

  • have an interest in nutrition and the welfare of people
  • be non- judgemental and understanding about alternative lifestyles
  • have tact and patience when persuading people to change eating habits
  • have good verbal and written communication skills
  • be flexible, able to work on your own and as part of a team
  • have good organisational skills
  • have an aptitude for and an interest in science.

Dietitian Career Opportunities

There may be opportunities for dietitians to teach food and health science in schools, colleges and universities, and to carry out research into areas like the effect of diet on athletic performance.

The majority of dietitians are employed in the NHS. Other employers include food and drink manufacturers, supermarket chains and the private health sector.

It is possible to work as a dietitian on a freelance, self-employed basis. There may be opportunities for work both in the UK and abroad across a range of specialisms including sports nutrition, research, the media, and health promotion.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Dietitian that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655

The British Dietetic Association (BDA)
5th Floor, Charles House
148/9 Great Charles Street
B3 3HT
Tel: 0121 200 8080

Health Professions Council
Park House
184 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU
Tel: 020 7582 0866

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Courses to help you become a Dietitian