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Dietitian Careers

An important field in the health care industry, a dietitian works with designing nutritional programs and implementing them to help protect a patient's health as well as to prevent and treat diseases. A dietitian career path is rewarding, as you make a positive impact on patients and community members lives by bettering their health.

If you are interested in public nutrition, there are a few different dietitian career paths to take. You can work in many settings such as in a hospital, clinic, community center, schools, and nursing facilities. You may find work as a clinical dietitian, managing a facility's food service department. In this role, you would oversee patient nutritional programs. A clinical dietitian may work closely with healthcare professionals to help coordinate a patient's dietary and medical needs for the overweight or critically ill.

As a community dietitian, you would develop nutritional programs to promote healthy eating techniques and prevent disease. This dietitian career path may lead you to working with a home health agency, at a fitness center, or at a health clinic. You could work with any type of patient, including children, those with special needs, or the elderly. Other popular dietitian careers include management dietitians and consultant dietitians.

There are two ways to become a registered dietitian (RD). Either method requires you to receive your bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited US college or university in dietetics, food service management, or other related area. The first method is to take a dietetic program which you would take classroom coursework and must complete a one-year internship afterwards. The second is to complete a coordinate program in dietetics, which combines classroom coursework and 900 successfully completed hours of supervised practice. This supervision would take place in a food service company, healthcare facility, or community agency.

After graduation, you need to pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration's exam to become a registered dietitian. You must take continuing education courses to maintain this registration. Some of the curriculum to expect includes business, culinary arts, physiology, chemistry, food service systems, and food and nutrition sciences. There are also specialized areas of practice such as nutrition support, pediatric nutrition, and diabetes education.

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