How to become a dietitian

Job description: What does a dietitian do?

Dieticians create individual nutrition plans for people with different problems. This includes people who are overweight, have food allergies, or certain medical conditions. But pregnant women, nursing mothers, athletes, and the food industry also often need therapeutic advice from dieticians. Their work is based on medical diagnoses and the recommendations of doctors. Thus, they help to avoid diseases or to support their healing with the right diet.

The main task of dietitians is the creation of individual meal and diet plans. To do this, they use their specialist knowledge of foods and their nutritional value. But medicinal properties of foods also play an essential role. Furthermore, dietitians advise their clients on diet and nutrition. They help with shopping and with the preparation of diet food.

In clinics or hospitals, they supervise the diet kitchen. To do this, they orientate themselves towards the needs of the patients. You will consult with the attending physician and attend regular rounds. They answer the patient’s particular questions about nutrition. Also, they are often responsible for purchasing goods and calculating costs in care facilities. They also calculate the nutritional value of meals and prepare handouts for their patients. More and more often, they give lectures on nutrition topics. As part of this, they give smart tips on healthy eating and explain how illness symptoms can be alleviated through special diet foods.

Dieticians see themselves as mediators between doctor and patient. They often work in the care sector, for example, in hospitals, retirement homes, and rehabilitation and spa clinics. But they can also find employment opportunities in other public institutions. Some advice in educational institutions, others are active in teaching and research themselves. For example, you work as a trainer for health professions or as a research assistant in conducting studies. Many dietitians also work as freelancers in various fields. You can advise either in your practice or on-site with the patient. Self-employment is becoming more and more attractive. Many people are now looking for professional help with questions about proper nutrition.

Dietitian responsibilities and requirements

The dietician is a medical profession or health profession. The apprenticeship takes three years. The recognized work enjoys a unique position in the field of diet therapy and nutritional advice. On the other hand, other professions in this area, such as nutritionists, have no legitimation to work in medical treatment.

As part of the training, dietitians acquire their specialist knowledge. This includes theoretical knowledge of food, nutrients, clinical pictures, and various practical elements. As a rule, young professionals have already completed several internships in a restaurant or clinic kitchens. Besides, they have specialist knowledge in the following areas: nutrition, biochemistry, nutritional medicine, general and special pathology, cooking and kitchen technology, toxicology, hygiene, food science, organization of a kitchen, and healthy and dietary advice. In general, dietitians have many opportunities for professional development. There are numerous additional qualifications. For example, some dietitians specialize in certain diseases.

Besides their technical knowledge, dietitians also need social skills, special interests, and special skills. You are enthusiastic about a vital way of life. You are interested in cooking as well as nutrition and health topics. They also enjoy dealing with people. You are empathetic and have good communication skills. They take their patients’ problems seriously and always try to find individual solutions. In doing so, they have a motivating nature. Dieticians are people with whom you can quickly and easily build trust. They do their jobs conscientiously and with much attention. You work independently and reliably. They are also a team player and willing to cooperate.