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Careers in Nutrition and Dietetics

Careers in Nutrition and Dietetics


Careers in Nutrition and DieteticsDietetics is the science of managing food and nutrition to promote health. A relatively new profession, this field has gained importance with the realisation that inappropriate eating habits can lead to many major diseases and that quality of life depends on the quality of food we eat. Dieticians or nutritionists help to promote good health through corrective eating habits, thus improving the quality of life. They assist people in planning meals depending upon their age, sickness or work routine, counsel and educate them about healthy eating- selection and preparation of food items according to the principles of nutrition and evaluate and make changes in their clients diet periodically. Dietitians promote nutritious eating habits through education and research, as well as through overseeing the selection and preparation of food services for many different institutions and groups. They fix nutritional regimens for patients in a hospital, athletes in physical training camps, mountaineers on an expedition and so on. They do research on nutritive value of food which help to understand the various components of food we eat and the right type of food which provides a balanced mix of the essentials like vitamins, minerals etc needed for the human body. They study the digestive process, the various reactions of food stuffs in the body and find out what is harmful and thus help to prevent diseases through a proper diet program. Some of them specialize in areas such as obesity, pediatrics or diabetes. They form a vital part of the health team. Organisations involved in food product manufacture use the services of the nutritionist or dietician to plan and research new products. The nutritionists also has excellent prospects in the mass media where top of priority is given to disseminating vital information on healthy living .They could find employment in hospitals, research labs of food manufacturers, catering departments of star hotels, health departments and recreation clubs, teach the science of nutrition and dietetics in colleges and universities. They can also work as consultants or do private practice. The trends today show a increasing interest in health and fitness. So future prospects in this women dominated field are bright.

Eligibility


People opting for a career in Dietetics and Nutrition should study home science or dietetics and nutrition, food science/technology courses at the graduate and postgraduate levels. Candidates desiring to seek admission to the course in Bachelor course in Nutrition & Dietetics are required to have a pass in the Higher Secondary Examination or Plus two in science subjects covering physics, chemistry, home science and biology. Besides a B.Sc in Nutrition & Dietetics, other preferable fields of graduation are Home Science, food science and technology, Medicine, Hotel management or Catering Technology. The three-year B.Sc. Home science courses covers subjects including food and nutrition. Several universities or colleges offer B.Sc. and M.Sc. Courses in Home science. Four year Food technology courses after Plus two in the science stream are also available in a few colleges and institutions. In the post graduation level, Dietetics and nutrition course can be either 2 year Masters programs or 1 year Post Graduate Diploma (Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition (DDPHN).Those with Bachelors degree in food science, home science, hotel management & catering technology, microbiology, biochemistry and medicine are eligible for Post Graduate level Degrees or Diplomas. In a 2 year M.Sc. Home Science course, one can specialise in food science and nutrition.M.Sc. home science course includes biochemistry, physiology, biostatistics, research methods, investigation into nutrition, human nutritional requirements, food microbiology and principles of food science in the first year, human nutrition and dietetics, institutional management and food science are included in the final year. The one year DDPHN course has a compulsory three-month internship, working in a hospital under a qualified dietician. Subjects of study covered during the DDPHN training include biochemistry, nutrition, applied physiology, food, microbiology, administration, therapeutic nutrition, and public health nutrition. After doing Post graduation programme, one can also go in for PhD and do Research in Food and Nutrition. The National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad www.icmr.nic.in/000229/nin.htm is a premier institute under Indian Council of Medical Research, www.icmr.nic.in an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family welfare, Government of India, that offers regular nutrition training courses every year . Those who take a doctorate degree in the area can aim at a better career in the research /academic fields. The Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad www.jntu.ac.in offers research facilities for Ph.D. in food technology. Postgraduates in chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, home science, agriculture, horticulture, food technology, food science and nutrition, veterinary science, M.Tech in chemical/ diary/agri/ food technology are eligible for admission. Personal qualities – A good dietitian or nutritionist should have an interest in food and food preparation. Good communication skills to communicate with people individually and in groups and good writing skills for producing reports, leaflets etc are essential. One should have patience and genuine concern for fellow beings. They should also have planning and administrative skills and organizational ability. Dietitians need to be fit and healthy and able to work as a team member.

Job Prospects and Career Options


Nutrition and Dietetics is a vital, growing field and the opportunities and possibilities in this field are endless. Nutritionists and dieticians could find employment in hospitals, health and recreation clubs, canteens, nursing care facilities, teach the science of nutrition and dietetics in colleges and universities, catering departments of star hotels, research labs of food manufacturers, in health departments of government etc. They can also work as consultants or do private practice. Moreover they could find openings in the mass media where top priority is given to disseminating vital information on healthy living The main fields in which a dietician or nutritionists can work is in Food service field, Institutional Catering, Health Care field, Research & Development and Social Welfare. Food service field include food Catering service, Restaurants etc where professionals can do menu planning, monitoring the food preparation etc. Institutional Catering is another field where Nutrition and dietetics professionals are needed to plan, supervise and prepare nutritious and well-balanced meals for schools, colleges, factories or office cafeterias etc. Their work may also include the estimation and purchase of food supplies and equipment; receiving, checking and taking inventories of provisions etc. Those who are involved in such work are called Administrative or Management dietitian or Nutritionists. In Health Care field,people suffering from certain diseases such as diabetics, heart diseases, obesity etc, need to take extra care of their eating habits and the kind of food they eat. Depending on the nutrition needs of the patients, dieticians prepare their diet charts and monitor the results of dietary therapy and maintain records. Professionals working in this field are called Clinical/ Therapeutic dietitian or Nutritionists. Research and Development involves conducting research on various food items to ensure their quality as well as studying the effects of various types of diet on the body chemistry in labs. The research dietician or nutritionists do research on nutritive value of food which help to understand the various components of food we eat and the right type of food which provides a balanced mix of the essentials like vitamins, minerals etc needed for the human body. Organizations involved in food product manufacture use the services of the nutritionist or dietician to plan and research new products as well as to check the nutritional quality of their products. Research careers occur mainly in universities, specialist institutions, food product manufacturing companies and hospitals. Nutrition and dietetics professionals also work for Social Welfare,they work in organizations mainly public health departments run by government, which helps in improving the eating habits and consequently, the health of the public. Public Health / Community dietitian.

Remuneration


Remuneration for Nutrition & Dietetics professionals is depended on the job and the area of work. In private hospitals, trainees may get starting salary of Rs. 2500 per month and after they gain more experience their salary may range between Rs. 4500 – 5000 with benefits. Research work, teaching, catering jobs etc. has good payment as also Food Technologists working in a food services department or industry etc. Consultant dieticians in private practice can earn more depending on their practice.