Diet plays a major role in promotion of health and well being of individual. A good and balanced diet habit improves the quality of life while poor diet may lead to morbidity and diseases. Nutritionists and dieticians are concerned with this aspect. While Dietetics is related to food management, Nutrition is related to promotion of health. Due to changes in food habits of most of the urban population, role of nutritionists and dieticians is becoming more important.
Nutritionists and dieticians have multiple career options. They can work with government hospitals, government’s health department, schools, colleges, factories and office cafeterias for planning nutritional regiment. They can also be hired for sports hostels and athletes camps. Health and recreation clubs, canteen and nursing care facilities also require the services of Nutritionists and dietitians. Employment opportunities are also open to them in catering department of star hotels and restaurants and research labs of food manufacturers. Moreover they could find openings in mass media where top priority is given to disseminating vital information on healthy living, like the weekly section by Dr Shikha Sharma in Brunch.
They also can opt for research career mainly in universities, public or private sector research institutes, food product manufacturing companies and hospitals. Teaching the science of nutrition of dietetics in collages and universities is also a good option available to Nutritionists and dietitians. Besides all these they can also work as private consultant or private practitioner.
Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. On a typical day a clinical dietitian will:
Â· assess patients’ nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results; and
Â· confer with doctors and other health care professionals in order to coordinate medical and nutritional needs.
Community dietitians counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices designed to prevent disease and promote good health. They work in places such as public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations. On a typical day a community dietitian will:
Â· evaluate individual needs;
Â· develop nutritional care plans; and
Â· instruct individuals and their families.
Management dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in health care facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. On a typical day a management dietitian will:
Â· hire, train, and direct other dietitians and food service workers; enforce sanitary and safety regulations; and prepare records and reports;
Â· budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies;
Â· enforce sanitary and safety regulations; and
Â· prepare records and reports.
Consultant dietitians work under contract with healthcare facilities or in their own private practice. On a typical day a consultant dietitian will:
Â· perform nutrition screenings for their clients; and
Â· offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction.
The minimum requirement for a career in Dietetics and Nutrition is a graduate/post-graduate degree in Home Science/Dietetics and Nutrition/Food Science/Technology. Candidates desiring to seek admission into Bachelor courses in all these subjects should have passed 10+2 with science subjects. Some colleges/universities also offer B.A courses in Home Science for which science at 10+2 is not necessary. This Bachelor courses is of a three year duration. For post-graduate courses in Home Science/Dietetics and Nutrition/Food Technology, graduation in these subjects is must. The post-graduate level courses are of two year duration. Apart from this, there is one year Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition (DDPHN). After doing Post graduation programme, one can also go in for PhD and do Research in Food and Nutrition.
There are several universities in India that offer B.Sc/M.Sc courses in Nutrition and Dietetics. Some of them are University of Madras, Chennai; Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai; University of Mumbai, Mumbai; Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam; Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; Maharaja Syajiro University of Baroda, Vadodara; Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur; Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad; Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Allahabad; Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore; Indira Gandhi National Open University ,New Delhi; Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad; Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra; Lady Irwin College, New Delhi; Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai; National Institute of Nutrition (NTR University of Health Science), Hyderabad and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
Those who are working in government hospitals, academic institutions, research institutes and other agencies have salaries as fixed by the government which is between Rs 8,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month depending upon work profile and experience. Private sector hotels, restaurants, food manufactures offer higher salary and attractive perks. Independent Practitioner and Private Consultants also have good earning which largely depends upon the number and nature of their clients.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and writes about alternative career options.