Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition. They provide guidance about how to appropriately manage diets and nutrition for people who may be affected by health conditions such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, cancer, heart disease, renal disease, gastro-intestinal diseases and food allergies. A dietitian can help people maintain their health and reduce their risk of developing chronic disease.
Where do dietitians practice?
Dietitians work across a range of health settings including sports organisations, fitness centres, private dietetic practices, larger multidisciplinary health practices, community health centres, and public and private hospitals. Dietitians also often work in aged care, mental health and disability facilities. In addition to providing direct patient care, dietitians work across a range of government and non-government organisations contributing to public health policy, food standards, media and communications, food industry, research and education.
When should I see a dietitian?
There are a wide range of triggers that may lead to a person benefiting from the support of a dietitian. Some typical reasons why someone might be referred, or might independently choose, to see a dietitian include:
- A newly diagnosed chronic disease
- Signs that a chronic illness is not being managed such as increased Hba1c levels
- Significant weight change
- Recent poor food intake, poor appetite, or difficulty preparing or eating food
- Changes in medication
- Periodic reviews of medical nutrition therapy.
What services do dietitians provide?
Dietitians working in the community offer a broad range of services to support people in managing their nutritional requirements. Key areas of work for dietitians are:
- Medical nutrition therapy – working with patients to assess their health and nutritional needs and to assist them to manage their medical condition(s) and symptoms via the use of a specifically tailored diet. Medical nutrition therapy may also involve enteral nutrition provision, monitoring and evaluation for a wide range of conditions.
- Food service management – working with residential aged care facilities, child care centres and group homes for people with disabilities to provide clinical care, staff training, menu assessment and planning, and compliance monitoring of therapeutic diets.
- Community and Public Health Nutrition – working with non-government and government organisations to develop preventive health programs, diabetes education and cardiovascular education, food security programs, to deliver nutrition education for groups, and to deliver activities such as supermarket tours and cooking classes.
How are dietitians qualified?
In order to practise as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, dietitians must meet the following requirements:
- Complete a recognised Bachelor or Master’s Level dietetic qualification
- Complete a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing professional development
- Adhere to the Dietitians Australia Code of Professional Conduct and Statement of Ethical Practice
- Comply with audit requirements.
Please note that dietitians may call themselves nutritionists, but a nutritionist may not call themselves a dietitian. Only dietitians that are accredited by Dietitians Association are eligible for Medicare and other government funding.
For more detailed information about Dietetics, please visit the Dietitians Australia website.
Find a practitioner
Dietitians Australia has a Find a Dietitian service that can help you locate an Accredited Practising Dietitian.