Duties of a Dietician

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    Job Description/Duties

Summary: Dietitians plan diets for patients and educate people about eating healthy foods. Some dietitians supervise food preparation and service.

There are four main areas of work for dietitians. Management dietitians are in charge of meal planning on a large scale. They generally work in large hospitals, schools, prisons, and cafeterias. Management dietitians hire and train new workers. They also supervise workers who plan, prepare, and serve meals. They inspect the meals their workers prepare. Dietitians assess that the proper nutrients are being supplied. In addition, they check that the food looks and smells good. Their administrative duties include preparing budgets and purchasing food, equipment, and supplies. They also prepare records and reports. Management dietitians check that safety and cleanliness rules are being followed. Clinical dietitians work in hospitals and nursing homes. They are in charge of providing foods that provide the correct nutrients for patients. Dietitians talk to doctors and health care workers about patients. Based on patients' health and nutritional information, dietitians develop diets. They check that the diets are helping patients get better, and may change the diet when patients are not improving. Dietitians in nursing homes, small hospitals, and jails or prisons may manage the food service department. These dietitians have some of the duties of management dietitians. Community dietitians work with the public as well as with patients. These dietitians teach classes about diet and nutrition. They plan, organize, and prepare materials for the classes. Some classes cover general nutrition in terms of having good health and preventing disease. Other classes are aimed towards the elderly, children, or people with special needs. Dietitians design these classes to cover specific information that is important to the group. Like clinical dietitians, community dietitians evaluate patients and design their diets. They may check that patients are following their diets at home. Community dietitians work in public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Consultant dietitians often run their own business. Like clinical dietitians, they analyze clients' health and offer diet advice. However, consultant dietitians tend to work with people who are not patients. Instead their clients may be healthy or slightly ill and have an interest in changing their diet. Consultant dietitians may work with businesses for short periods as advisors. They offer their knowledge and help businesses make changes or set up new programs. As more people become interested in nutrition, new jobs are being created. Some dietitians work in food manufacturing companies where they analyze food. Other dietitians work in advertising companies where they prepare information about food. Some dietitians are researchers. They write grant proposals to request funding for research. They also plan and conduct research projects about diet and nutrition. When their research is finished, they analyze their findings and write reports about the results.

Work Activities

  • Talk to doctors or health care workers about patients. Find out the patients' nutrition needs and dietary limits.
  • Write grant proposals to request funding for research or programs.
  • Plan and conduct research projects about diet and nutrition. Analyze findings and write reports about results.
  • Analyze the content of food for manufacturers. Prepare information about food for the public.
  • Develop diets for patients based on their nutritional information and health.
  • Teach patients and their families about nutrition, diet, and food selection.
  • Evaluate how patients respond to their diets. Check that they are following their diets at home.
  • Inspect meals prepared in restaurants, hospitals, or nursing homes. Check that meals are providing the correct nutrients. Also check the flavor and appearance of the food.
  • Hire and train new workers. Supervise workers who plan, prepare, and serve meals.
  • Prepare budgets and purchase food, equipment, and supplies. Prepare records and reports.
  • Make sure safety and cleanliness rules are being followed.
  • Teach classes about diet, nutrition, and food service management. Plan, organize, and prepare materials for the classes.

General Activities

  • Get information needed to do the job.
  • Perform administrative activities.
  • Make decisions and solve problems.
  • Analyze data or information.
  • Update and use job-related knowledge.
  • Organize, plan, and prioritize.
  • Judge the qualities of food and the health of patients.
  • Evaluate information against standards.
  • Develop objectives and strategies.
  • Document, record, and process information.
  • Identify events, such as how a patient has changed while on a diet.
  • Implement programs, such as patients' diets.
  • Communicate with patients, doctors, and other health care workers.
  • Establish and maintain interpersonal relationships.
  • Interpret the meaning of information to patients and the public.
  • Teach patients and the public.
  • Schedule and coordinate the work and activities of others.
  • Assist and care for others.
  • Provide advice and consultation to others.