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What Is a Dietitian and How to Become One

What Does a Dietitian Do?

A dietitian helps clients make healthy food choices to achieve a specific health-related goal—like disease management or prevention—or simply to have a healthier lifestyle in general. As nutritional health specialists, dietitians work closely with clients to assess their health needs and dietary limitations; then they create meal plans to ensure clients are eating a proper diet.

How Do You Become a Dietitian?

To become a dietitian, you need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition science, dietetics, clinical nutrition, or a related field. If you want to become a registered dietitian, you need to attend a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and then complete an internship. Most states require practicing dietitians to have a license or certificate from an organization like the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

What Are Jobs a Registered Dietitian Can Do?

A registered dietitian can do many types of jobs in the nutrition field. Many registered dietitians work in medical facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities to ensure that patients receive nutritional meals. They also work in schools and correctional facilities to oversee cafeteria meal planning and food preparation. Registered dietitians may also work in public health organizations and government agencies.

What Are the Skills Needed to Be a Dietician?

Dietitians need to be experts on food and nutrition science, but they also need compassion and excellent interpersonal skills to succeed in the dietetic field. Much of a dietitian’s work centers on client interactions, so dietitians must be strong communicators who can explain the effects of dietary choices on clients’ health outcomes. Furthermore, dietitians need strong problem-solving skills to help clients accomplish their nutritional and health care goals. Organizational skills are also valuable.

Dietitian Job Description Sample

With this Dietitian job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Dietitian role.

Job Summary

We are seeking an energetic and experienced Dietitian to help our clients achieve their nutrition and health goals. You will work with patients of different ages and health levels, so you must be able to create nutritional programs based on their specific medical needs. To reinforce your proposed plan, you will educate the patients and their families on how to follow the diet guidelines closely, follow-up on patients' nutritional progress, and make adjustments to the diet plan when necessary.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Evaluate patient lifestyle, nutritional, and health needs
  • Advise patients on setting specific nutrition goals
  • Provide patients with educational facts on nutrition to improve their health
  • Develop a thorough and cost-efficient meal plan that includes healthy foods and meets nutrition goals
  • Monitor, track, and adjust meal plans
  • Coordinate with patient healthcare professionals as needed
  • Present facts about diet and nutrition during community events and speaking engagements

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, public health nutrition, or a related field
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) certification, Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), or state license as required by law
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Organized and able to create multiple nutrition plans, budgets, and schedules
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Compassionate and sensitive to patients' needs and concerns