(also spelled dietitians) are experts in food and nutrition. They participate in research, plan food and nutrition programs and supervise the preparation of food. Dieticians also help educate individuals or groups on good nutritional habits. Dieticians prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications. In a medical setting, a dietician may provide specific artificial nutritional needs to patients unable to consume food normally. The term “dietician” is legally protected. Only people with specific educational credentials can call themselves dieticians. A “nutritionist” is not the same as a certified dietician. People may call themselves nutritionists without the educational and professional requirements of registered dieticians. A dietician is registered to a national board and accredited and a nutritionist is neither.
The majority of dieticians are clinical, or therapeutic dieticians. Clinical dieticians provide nutritional services to patients in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and other institutions. The review medical charts and talk with patients’ families, and work with other health care professionals. Dieticians develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. Some clinical dieticians specialize in managing the weight of overweight patients or in the care of the elderly, patients with renal (kidney disease), diabetic, or critically ill patients. Clinical dietitians may also manage the food service department in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities.
Community dieticians work with wellness programs and international health organizations. These dieticians apply and distribute knowledge about food and nutrition to specific life-styles and geographic areas. They coordinate nutritional programs in public health agencies, daycare centers, health clubs, and recreational camps and resorts. Some community dieticians carry out clinical based patient care in the form of home visits for patients who are too physically ill to attend consultation in health facilities.
Management dieticians oversee large-scale food planning and service in health care facilities, school food service programs, prisons, cafeterias and restaurants. They also hire, train and direct other dieticians, budget and purchase food and other supplies, enforce sanitary and safety regulations, and perform audits of their departments.
Business dieticians serve as resource people for the media. Dieticians' expertise in nutrition is often taped for TV, radio, and newspapers—either as an expert guest, regular columnist or guest, or for resource, restaurant, or recipe development and critique. Dieticians may also serve as show hosts on major television stations, write books, appear on television cooking channels, and author corporate newsletters on nutrition and wellness.
Dieticians also work as consultants under private practice. Consultant dieticians contract
independently to provide nutrition services and educational programs to individuals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Consultant dieticians work under contract with healthcare facilities or in their own private practice. They perform nutrition screenings for their clients and offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss and cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, or other nutrition-related businesses.