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Careers as a Dietitian

26 Jun 2013

Do you have an interest in people and food? Do you have the ability to explain complex things in a simple way? Do you have a positive and motivating attitude? If this suits your interest and personality, consider a career as a dietitian, a vital, growing profession with many career possibilities. Dietitians are qualified professionals who apply this expert knowledge in the science of nutrition, a study of food and nutrients and its effects on an individual, into practical guidance. This enables people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices to ward off diseases and stay healthy. Dietitians also help empower people to make changes to eating habits when they have long term diseases such as diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity. If this sounds interesting to you, you should consider being a dietitian. This is a vital, growing profession with many career possibilities in which you will share your knowledge of food and nutrition to help people make appropriate food choices to stay healthy. Career path dietitians Dietitians normally work in a clinical setting. They are important members of the healthcare team in the hospital. They provide dietary counselling to patients and prescribe the dietary regime for critically ill patients who cannot eat normally to ensure faster recovery.  They assess the patient’s nutritional status, develop, implement and monitor medical nutrition therapy appropriate to the patient’s disease condition. With sufficient years of experience and further certification, some dietitians specialise in specific areas such as diabetes, cancer, paediatrics, gastroenterology, renal and critical care.   Dietitians may also work in community-based healthcare settings such as medical clinics, long term care facilities and wellness centers to provide dietary consultancy for health and medical conditions. Dietitians can also become managers in a food service operation. They manage large-scale preparation and serving of food such as in hospitals, workplace cafeterias, sports institutions, boarding schools and other facilities of quantity food preparation. The food service dietitian is skilful in business operations and manages people, safe food preparation, menu development and budgeting control among other responsibilities. Dietitians can also work in sports and fitness industry where they provide dietary counselling to recreational and competitive athletes to improve their performance and health. Dietitians serve as a food and nutrition resource for coaches and trainers; and provide sports nutrition education for fitness programmes. Working in universities and research institutes in the private or public sector is another exciting career option for dietitians who possess postgraduate degrees such as Masters or PhD. They can teach, conduct research and undertake publications, as well as contribute to the training of future dietitians. Dietitians with sufficient years of experience can be entrepreneurs who set up their own private practice or work under contract with healthcare facilities. They conduct nutrition assessment and provide advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. They may also provide consultancy in nutrition and dietetic matters to corporate, government and professional societies. Dietitians can also go into journalism – writing professionally for consumer magazines and newspapers. They can function as lobbyists, influencing public policy to support good health. In order to become a dietitian, you must undergo a formal education / training which will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills. This is one of the programmes offered at the International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia’s first and most established private medical and healthcare university founded 21 years ago.

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