Dietitians plays an increasing role in our current society, healthy eating having become synonymous with good health, well-being and increased life expectancy. The person who usually works in a hospital or health care setting is usually called a dietitian, while one who works in a community environment is generally a nutritionist.
Dietitians are active throughout the food supply chain: from development to management and production to distribution. They can also do nutrition prevention, training and education.
- Dietitians have the opportunity to work in a number of sectors. Their role is very different depending on whether they work in an office, a hospital or a public health department.
- In-office consultations for individuals, families and groups. They discuss such varied topics as nutritional equilibrium, excess weight, obesity, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), sports nutrition, anemia, diabetes, etc.
- Consulting role with organizations involved in hospitality (communities, food industry). Dietitians are responsible for meal planning and preparation. They analyze the quality of products, write selling speeches and approve menus.
- Training to various types of organizations on nutrition-related subjects.
- Research on the eating habits of individuals and on the metabolism of nutritional components.
EDUCATION AND JOB REQUIREMENTS
To practise as a dietitian, the three following criteria must be observed:
- Education: A bachelor’s degree from a university recognized by the Order of Dietitians of Canada
- Practical experience: An internship
- Belonging to a provincial professional order
- Show an interest in and aptitudes for social science and health
- Have advanced knowledge of nutrition, human nutrition, therapeutic nutrition and dietetics
- Be able to convert data and nutritional needs into foods and daily meals
- Understanding and listening skills
- Empathy, tact and persuasion
- Interpersonal skills
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Good oral and written communication skills
Dietitians can first of all work in all the various environments listed previously; the jobs are all very different. They can also choose to head up a dietetics department or work in training.