The Dietician's Job

the dieticians job
If you ask people what a dietician does, I am willing to bet that 95% will tell you that we are all about weight loss. To tell the truth, in private practice, weight loss is our bread and butter. But there is so much more we can do.

If I look back on my career so far, it is pleasingly varied. My work experience covers quite a few areas that are covered by dieticians.

My first love and biggest passion is private practice. Connecting with people on a very personal level and guiding them towards their health and weight loss goals is deeply satisfying. Success is often a hard won battle. Every person who comes and sits with me at my desk becomes a small, but important part of me. Your success or failure, is my success or failure. Your anxiety about standing on the scale after a weekend away, is my anxiety. Your joy at achieving perfect blood sugar control, is my joy. Your journey with me is often deeply personal, one that you don't even share with your friends and family. That puts me in a very privileged position and I thank you for sharing honestly with me.

Although I have been in private practice for 20 years, there are so many other avenues that I have explored.
What Dieticians Do

I have worked in Private Hospitals where most of the patients and nursing staff see us as a representative of the kitchen and take every opportunity they get to complain about the hospital food. We clearly are link to the kitchen, in that a hospital dietician is responsible for ensuring that all of the patients receive the correct diet, especially for those that require special diets. But, the dietician is not simply a glorified hostess. She needs to assess the nutritional requirements of all of the patients referred to her. She then needs to calculate their requirements and translate those requirements into food or liquid feeds or parenteral nutrition. For those leaving the hospital with a new diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease, or a food allergy, or those who have undergone surgery to the gastrointestinal system, or had an organ removed, or those with kidney failure, the dietician's advice is indispensable. Food is life and very often the wrong food could spell disaster.

I have worked in food service management, overseeing the special diets in hospital kitchens, both government and private, as well as other institutions such as boarding houses, orphanages, and police barracks. The dietician that works in the kitchen is involved in planning appropriate menus, compiling recipes, implementing strict guidelines for production, and training staff to ensure that the best quality food leaves the kitchen.

I have started a food company from scratch, producing healthy convenience meals for toddlers. Everything from recipe development, food handling and buying, cooking, labelling, freezing and delivery was handle by me. This was another vey rewarding job, though extremely time consuming and exhausting.

I have been involved in lecturing for the nutritional component of certain courses. Although not my passion, teaching people about nutrition and how it all fits together is extremely interesting and rewarding. Everyone eats and thinks the they know about what they should eat and that they can tell other people what to eat, but there are always some surprised faces in the audience. A dietician is an expert in diet and nutrition. In order to remain registered we are required to complete continuing education activities so that we remain up to date with the changes and advances in nutrition science.

I have been involved in the management of a small group of dieticians. I was managing 3 private practices as well as planning workshops for dieticians around the country.

As varied as my career has been, it has only touched the tip of the iceberg of all the things a dietician is able to do. Other areas include:
  • Community nutrition
  • Consulting to the food and pharmaceutical industries
  • Media
  • Research and education

I am pleased that I have been involved in so many areas of dietetics and I am looking forward to whatever may come my way in the next 20 years.

Wendy Signature