Dietitians are qualified experts who specialize in the science of nutrition. They assess, develop, implement, and evaluate nutrition care plans in order to improve people’s diet and eating habits, thus, ensuring a positive impact on their overall health and quality of life. Unlike Nutritionists, Dietitians also work with patients suffering from eating disorders, allergies, diabetes, and/or other medical conditions. They may specialize in areas such as administrative dietetics, clinical dietetics, community dietetics, public health nutrition, or research dietetics.
In fact, the main difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist lies in the legal limitations associated with each of these titles. In Canada, Dietitians are members of a provincially regulated profession, meaning their title is protected by law, while the title “Nutritionist” is not – except in Alberta, Québec, and Nova Scotia, where “Nutritionist” is a protected title as well, usually used in place of the term “Community Dietitian”. Unlike Nutritionists and other Nutritional Therapists, Dietitians must meet national standards for education and training.
Both Dietitians and Nutritionists may be self-employed and work as private consultants, running their own clinic. However, Dietitians are usually employed in hospitals, healthcare institutions and agencies, extended care facilities, governmental and educational institutions, and sports organizations, or may work within the food and beverage or pharmaceutical industries. Nutritionists, on the other hand, are usually working in community health centres or may act as nutritional consultants for food companies.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Dietitians are required to complete.
- Maintaining and improving patient’s overall health by providing them with individual nutritional counselling and/or group nutrition sessions:
- Evaluating patient’s nutrition status by administering questionnaires and laboratory tests to find out which nutritional factors are affecting the patient’s health;
- planning, implementing, and overseeing menus, taking into consideration the nutritional value, taste, appearance, and preparation of food;
- providing practical nutrition recommendations to help patients meet their goals;
- preparing nutrition assessment report for patients; and
- addressing patient’s questions and concerns.
- Maintaining patient records and statistical data reports.
- Developing and implementing nutrition and food preparation services/programs in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities:
- Preventing and treating inadequate nutrition by planning and conducting nutrition educational programs and developing educational materials for various audiences.
- Providing nutrition expertise, information, consulting, and education to health professionals, community groups, government, and/or the media in areas of nutrition interpretation, intervention, and policy:
- Participating in clinical program development and research initiatives.
- Staying updated on nutritional best practices, constantly analyzing current scientific nutritional studies and conducting research in order to better inform patients and healthcare professionals.
- Evaluating nutritional status of individuals and planning therapeutic diets and menus accordingly.
- Maintaining patient records and collecting data.
- Developing and implementing food preparation services and programs in healthcare facilities.
- Providing nutrition guidance and consulting to health professionals.
- Planning, evaluating, and conducting nutrition education programs, including educational material development.
- Staying updated on nutritional best practices.
The average Dietitian salary is $58,951 per year or $30 per hour. This is around 1.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $41,000 while most experienced workers make up to $83,000. These results are based on 102 salaries extracted from job descriptions.