Clinical dietitians are those who create nutritional plans to improve the short and long term health of people undergoing treatments in hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, veteran’s hospitals, or health maintenance organizations (HMOs). This role requires using medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to assess nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition interventions, and monitor and evaluate the results. Some specific tasks that are conducted daily by clinical dietitians include developing disease specific meal plans, determining appropriate tube feeding and parental nutrition recommendations, and speaking with individuals or groups about the relationship between healthy eating habits and the prevention or management of specific diseases. While most clinical dietitians work with a broad range of disease states, some tend to specialize in areas such as weight management, critical care, renal disease, diabetes, pediatrics, gastro-intestinal disease, or cardiovascular disease.
Food Service Management
Food service managers oversee large scale food preparations and planning in healthcare facilities, prisons, school cafeterias, and restaurants. Other roles may involve overseeing other dietitians, training kitchen staff, purchasing food and supplements, developing specialized menus, and ensuring that the kitchen adheres to governmental food safety standards.
Public Health/ Community
Community dietitians design nutritional programs and policies to improve the health of targeted populations. University Cooperate Extensions or state public health departments are popular employers. Community dietitians are often involved with helping financially disadvantaged families and can work with government assistance programs such as Women, Infants, & Children (WIC), Congregate Meal Programs, the Food and Nutrition Program (FAN), the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).While working in the community, dietitians can conduct health fairs, public speaking engagements, and lead grocery shopping tours to assist families in making healthier food choices that suit their means and lifestyles.
Sports Dietitian provides nutrition counseling and education to enhance the performance of competitive and recreational athletes, either on-site and during travel. The primary responsibilities include counseling individuals and groups on daily nutrition for performance and health, translating the latest scientific evidence into practical sports nutrition recommendations, serving as a food and nutrition resource for coaches, trainers, and parents, providing sports nutrition education for health/wellness programs, athletic teams, and community groups, and maintaining professional competency and skills required for professional practice. Sports dietitians work in various settings which includes high schools, colleges, professional sports teams, fitness gyms, and athletic training facilities.
Research dietitians plan, organize, and conduct scientific studies in order to contribute towards the advancement of knowledge in nutritional sciences. These dietitians can work for medical centers, universities/colleges, governmental agencies, and food and pharmaceutical companies. Depending on the type of research, research dietitians can gather information via surveys, interviews, or direct observations. Researchers that work for universities are often required to teach nutrition classes in addition to do their research. After studies have concluded, the results are usually communicated through reports and publications.
About 15% of dietitians have a private practice. These dietitians can be either self-employed or are contracted by health care facilities or food companies. Nutrition services conducted by private practice dietitians can include weight loss, eating disorders, diabetes management, and other diet related concerns. They can also provide consulting services for athletes, food vendors, company employees, and food service managers. Private practice dietitians are usually compensated by out of pocket pay or through insurance reimbursement.
Social media has given dietitians new opportunities to communicate food and nutrition information and promote their businesses. Media allows dietitians to remotely connect with people from all over the world and expand professional business networks. Popular media networks used by dietitians can include radio, television, newspapers, websites, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.