What is a Dietitian?
Clinical dietitians work as part of an interdisciplinary health care group of professionals by assessing the nutritional status of individuals, developing and implementing care plans, monitoring the effectiveness of nutrition intervention, and providing counselling.
In the community, they may develop programs and services to foster better nutritional choices for their clients, while those in research are engaged in examining issues and questions related to enhancing nutritional care.
Education and training
Dietitians are regulated health professionals who have a baccalaureate degree in foods and nutrition. Furthermore, their training includes clinical components in a hospital or community setting.
The typical length of these clinical placements is between 40 to 45 weeks but it may vary. Dietitians may also consider graduate degrees (Masters or PhD) and conduct research.
Being a regulated health professional, dietitians are held accountable to certain practice guidelines and also for the delivery of the care and services they provide. Graduates who have met national standards for education and training and are registered with a regulatory board may use the title of Registered Dietitian (RD) or the French equivalent, Dt.P.
Difference between Dietitian and Nutritionist
As the Dietitians of Canada website explains, ?the term nutritionist is not protected by law in all provinces, so people with different levels of training and knowledge can all themselves a nutritionist. The title ?nutritionist? is protected for dietitians in some provinces and dietitians do use the title ?nutritionists.'”
Conversely, the titles ?registered dietitian,? ?professional dietitian,? and ?dietitian? are protected by law and restricted to members of provincial regulatory boards. This is similar to other regulated health professions (i.e., nursing, pharmacy, etc.).
Universities offering Dietitians of Canada Accredited Undergraduate Programs are the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba, University of Western Ontario (Brescia University College), University of Guelph, Ryerson University, McGill University, Universite de Montreal, Universite Laval, University of Prince Edward Island, Mount St. Vincent University, St. Francis Xavier University, Acadia University, Universite de Moncton, and Memorial University.
The University of Ottawa program has not yet been accredited by Dietitians of Canada.
The typical course work includes a variety of subjects in biology, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, food nutrition and service, statistics, and social sciences, as well as courses in communication.
Where do dietitians work?
Dietitians work in health care facilities including nursing homes, community health centres, hospitals, or in the community as public health dietitians. Moreover, some can be found working as consultants in private practice or in industry engaged in research, marketing, product development, and consumer education. Those working in private practice may provide expertise in diet therapy, nutrition to individuals, industry, or the media.
In government positions, dietitians are involved in developing and implementing nutrition and food policy based on scientific research. They are also involved in evidence-based medicine in consultation with community practitioners. Finally, they may work in a public health capacity in the community and assess the nutritional needs of populations, identify community nutrition problems, and develop health promotion strategies.
Salaries and demographic information
According to Service Canada, dietitians earn $30.17 per hour in Canada (within the broad grouping of pharmacists, dietitians, and nutritionists), which is above the national average ($18.07).
Dietitians of Canada reports that dietitians? salaries can also vary across provinces and fields of practice. For example, those working in urban settings make more than their rural counterparts do. As well, a clinical dietitian working in a large hospital may earn more than a dietitian working in a long-term care facility. The average salary for a new graduate is $40,000 or more.
Women comprise 66 per cent of those in the pharmacist/dietitian/nutritionist category. The majority of workers (86 per cent) are 25 – 54 years of age, 11 per cent are older than 55, and 3 per cent are 24 or younger.
According to Dietitians of Canada, the employment outlook is strong as dietetics is one of the fastest growing job sectors in Canada. Employment rates are promising and a survey of internship graduates demonstrated that more than 90 per cent of new graduates find full-time positions in their field.
For more information regarding dietitians, please visit the Dietitians of Canada website.