Are you a dietetics major that will be graduating this year? If you are, chances are you’re probably thinking about what comes after college. Upon graduation, dietetics majors must complete an accredited dietetic internship consisting of 1,200 hours of supervised practice, then pass the national registration exam in order to become a registered dietitian (RD).
While the job opportunities for dietitians continue to grow, here are the four most common career paths for dietetics graduates.
Clinical dietitians work most commonly in hospitals or nursing homes and cater to the specific nutritional needs of those who are ill or elderly. This includes strategizing a diet that alleviates a medical issue such as diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease. These diets can be implemented as short or long term and are typically either preventative or therapeutic in nature. The clinical dietitian acts as a mediator between doctor, patient and facility staff and must take these different opinions and expertise into consideration when creating a patient’s diet.
Community dietitians work in a wider array of settings such as schools, community health clinics and government agency programs. Their focus is also typically on a group of people rather than one specific person. They are tasked with creating diet plans determined by the age, ethnicity, geography and genders of the group and educating them on dietary guidelines. The goal of community dietitians is to instill dietary knowledge and positive health outcomes into the lives of the group(s) they work with.
Food Service Management Dietitians
A registered dietitian in a food service management position could work in a multitude of settings such as hospitals, cafeterias and food corporations. Their central responsibility is to determine the meal programs in these settings. More specific tasks that food service management dietitians perform include leading other dietitians or staff, purchasing food from suppliers and organizing the different components of a meal program.
Companies that have hundreds of employees on site often have a business dietitian to manage the menus, portion sizes, budgeting and sourcing of the food they serve. The dietitian should incorporate health standards into their dietary plans and also find the best strategy for feeding a large mass of people. Another important issue that business dietitians should be aware of is food waste. Maintaining the input versus output levels of the food they serve to minimize food waste is not only good for the company’s budget but also the environment.