Wanting to stay fit and healthy is a great goal to pursue indeed. But to achieve that goal, one needs to control their diet accordingly.
That is where dietitians come into the picture, as they help to devise the optimal diet plan for the health-conscious. Now, to become a good dietitian, you must have the proper training and education, which is what the field of dietetics is all about.
However, not everyone is completely aware of what dietetics education courses entail. So, in this guide, we have discussed all the essential information related to dietetics for those who want to pursue this career. If you count yourself as one of them, then read on!
What Is Dietetics?
In simple terms, dietetics is a field of study that deals with diets and their effects on the health of an individual. More specifically, it aims to apply the scientific understanding of nutrition to the human body to promote healthy living and prevent diseases. It draws from other related domains, such as biology and chemistry, to understand the impact of different foods on the body.
Dietetics is considered to be a branch of nutrition studies, which is a much larger domain covering other associated fields like general nutrition and community nutrition.
As you might have guessed by now, a practitioner of dietetics is known as a dietitian. But a dietitian is not the same as a nutritionist, despite having a similar role. Both of them help people find the best eating plan for a healthy lifestyle, but the difference lies in their qualifications.
A dietitian is formally trained in the field of dietetics, which means they have the proper credentials to their name. On the other hand, nutritionists may not always be formally trained in their respective academic fields and, thus, may not have the necessary credentials. Because of that reason, becoming a dietitian is much harder and more time-consuming than becoming a nutritionist.
Moreover, dietetics is more evidence-based compared to the other fields in nutrition studies. That is the reason why dietitians have a higher demand in healthcare institutions and public health programs.
How To Make A Professional Career In Dietetics?
As we have mentioned before, you need to have formal training to become a registered dietitian (RD). In other words, you will require a suitable academic degree, along with the necessary certifications, before you can get started with your career.
On that note, an aspiring student needs to complete three steps to become a registered dietitian. These steps have been briefly discussed below.
Step 1: Complete A Dietetics Course In Dietetics
The first step in your journey to becoming a dietitian is to complete a relevant academic course in dietetics. Several universities offer dietetics courses today, so you can pick the one that suits you the best. After completing the course, you will be awarded a bachelor of science degree, which will help you proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Complete An Accredited Internship Program
It is crucial for an aspiring dietitian to have some degree of practical experience in the field. That is the primary goal of this step, where you work under a recognized institution or establishment for a specific duration.
Under the supervision of a licensed professional, you will get hands-on training, where you can practically apply the theoretical knowledge gained during the dietetics course. And once the duration of the internship program is complete, you can proceed to the next and final step.
Step 3: Pass The Dietetic Registration Exam
Once you complete both the above-mentioned steps, you will become eligible to sit for the dietetic registration exam. It is a national-level examination conducted by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and passing it is necessary to get certified as a registered dietitian.
In this regard, if you meet the requirements, you can appear for further examinations conducted by the CDR. This is primarily meant for candidates who want to pursue a specialized field, such as pediatric nutrition or sports dietetics.
What To Expect In A Dietetics Course?
The course content for dietetics courses is pretty straightforward. At first, the students will be expected to take a brief introductory course in nutrition. Following that, they will move on to more intermediate and advanced courses to gain a better understanding of the subject.
Students will also be expected to take supporting courses in multiple subjects, such as biology, chemistry, and physiology. Since the foundation of nutrition studies is based on these sciences, the additional courses will help them to improve their knowledge further and hone their skills.
Career Opportunities In Dietetics
Once you get certified as a registered dietitian, you can choose between different focus areas, such as:
- Clinical practice
- Public health nutrition
- Health promotion
- Corporate nutrition and wellness
- Nutritional counseling
- Food industry consultant
- Food service management
- Private practice
Most RDs tend to choose between clinical practice and public health nutrition, where they work with different hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities. Some may also choose to go into their own private practice, which offers better freedom and control. The rest choose between the other focus areas as per their aspirations.
As more people become health conscious, the demand for dietitians increases simultaneously. This, in turn, makes a career in dietetics a highly lucrative choice. Besides, you get a lot of opportunities to help people in need, which is a bonus.
That said, more people entering this field will mean more competition. So, you will need to perform at the top of your capabilities to stand out among the crowd.
If you use the information we have provided in this guide, you can make the best of any opportunities that come your way. And with enough time and dedication, you will achieve your goal of becoming a great dietitian.