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What Is Your job Title?
I am a Registered Dietitian.
What Does a Dietitian Do?
Registered Dietitians are health care professionals uniquely trained in the areas of food, nutrition and health. Dietitians are educated in science, management, human development, and health of populations.
Registered Dietitians can fill many roles, depending on where they work. Dietitians collaborate with individuals, community groups, populations, interprofessional health care teams and others to provide evidence-informed services. Dietitians may:
- work with individuals or groups to prevent, treat or manage health conditions with food and nutrition.
- provide one-on-one counseling or group classes about food and health.
- determine the nutrients to deliver through a tube or IV if an individual is unable to eat food on their own.
- work with individuals, communities and populations to take action on issues that affect their nutritional health, such as the availability of affordable food and developing cooking or grocery shopping skills.
- participate in or lead research projects, or work on developing policies, guidelines and standards to create an environment that promotes and supports health both in the community and within health care institutions.
What Training Is Necessary to Do Your Work?
Registered Dietitians must have a university degree from an accredited university. Dietitians must have completed an accredited practicum training program or internship, write a national certification exam following graduation, and participate in a continued competence program annually to maintain their license.
Where Do You Work?
Dietitians work in many different settings. Dietitians can work in Hospitals, Care Homes Community Centres, Public Health or Health Region offices.
Who Needs Your Services and Why?
Everyone in Saskatchewan benefits from the services of a Registered Dietitian, whether they know it or not. Even if you have never met a Dietitian, you have been affected by the work that we do. From the nutrition taught to your children at school, to government regulations on the amount of sodium in your food, Dietitians have been a part of developing those standards. Dietitians work with hospitals and long term care homes to try to improve the nutritional quality of the meals provided. Dietitians help people who are sick to improve their health, and work to support and promote healthy people to stay healthy. Nutrition is a part of everyone’s life and is an important component of health. Healthy eating leads to improved health and well-being.
What Is Your Favourite Part of Your Job?
As a Dietitian, being a part of research and seeing results of that research used to promote change for individuals and on a large scale (i.e. being implemented in government policy) is incredibly rewarding. Teaching interns, other health professionals and clients about the benefits of nutrition for health, regardless of the practice setting, is exciting and it’s very rewarding to see the impact that nutrition has on people’s lives as that knowledge is passed on and put to use.
What Challenges Do You Have in Your Job?
One of the challenges for Dietitians is a lack of awareness of what we do. Patients and clients sometimes think we prepare the food in the kitchen or are there to ‘police’ what they eat. Staffing is always a challenge. In the current climate, with vacant jobs not being posted (i.e. mat leaves), services are not being provided to the communities where those jobs are left vacant as a budget-management/cost-control mechanism.
What Are the Consequences When There Are Not Enough People with Your Training to Provide Service?
Everyone benefits from the work that we do. Fewer Dietitians means we can’t work to affect change with individuals, communities and populations. With an obesity epidemic in full-swing, can we really afford NOT to have the experts in food and nutrition working to try to make a difference?