We loved speaking at the Healthy Bloggers Community Networking Event last weekend, and chatting to some of you afterwards. It was great to hear about so many people considering careers in the nutrition field, and we were asked to write a post on what to do if you want to train as a Nutritionist/Dietitian.
What’s a dietitian?
As per the British Dietetic Association, Registered Dietitians (RDs) are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level. The title is protected by law, meaning only those registered with the statutory regulator, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) can use the title of Dietitian/Registered Dietitian (RD).
How do I become a dietitian?
To become a dietitian, the minimum requirement is a BSc Hons in Dietetics, or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or higher degree in Dietetics.
What will I study on a dietetics degree?
On a dietetics degree, you are likely to study biochemistry, physiology, applied sciences and research methods which underpin nutrition and dietetics. At King’s we also get to choose several optional modules i.e. medical microbiology/cancer & genetics and we also cover social, psychological and behavioural sciences and the theories of communication to support the development of skills required for professional dietetic practice.
Finally, all dietetic courses require a period of supervised practice (placements) including NHS settings. This is a chance to demonstrate clinical and professional competence before being eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. A list of BDA accredited dietetic courses in the UK is here: https://www.bda.uk.com/training/study
What’s a Nutritionist?
Nutritionists work in different roles including public health, health improvement, health policy, local and national government, in the private sector, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and in education and research. Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about diet and healthy eating. Although anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, only registrants with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) can call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs), a title that some employers prefer.
Which areas do Nutritionists work in?
Nutritionists work in all non-clinical settings such as in Government, food industry, research, teaching and sports or freelance as consultants. Nutritionists work with people who are well, without any known existing medical conditions, to prevent disease. Nutritionists cannot work with acutely ill hospitalised patients or those living in the community requiring therapeutic interventions without supervision from a dietitian.
How do I become a Nutritionist?
There are many degree courses available in nutrition. Courses that have applied and met strict standards of professional education in nutrition are accredited by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and graduates from these courses have direct entry onto the voluntary register. A list of AFN accredited degrees is here: http://www.associationfornutrition.org/Default.aspx?tabid=134
We hope this helps with your journey to becoming a Nutritionist/Dietitian!