In recent decades, the public has displayed what seems to be an insatiable appetite for information about issues associated with human nutrition. This conspicuous preoccupation with physical fitness by way of sensible eating habits and balanced nutrition has generated a litany of best-seller diet books, magazine articles and has been a popular topic of various TV and radio talk shows.
Nowadays, regardless of what one’s personal preference is, as far as the choice of food, dietary supplements or regimen are concerned, it’s a matter of general consensus that proper nutrition plays a major role in promoting healthy living, preventing disease, and enhancing our overall well-being. As a result of our growing awareness and deeper understanding of the indisputable value of good nutrition, nutritional science and therapy have been recognized as a key element of modern medicine and public health care system. These developments, in turn, have translated into a rising demand for professional nutritionists and dieticians who provide advice and services to the general population and who lend their expertise to various industries. Dieticians and nutritionist focus on nutritional aspects of food selection and consumption related to physiological functions of human organism in health and illness at different stages of life cycles. They assist in the promotion of health and control and prevention of disease. Registered dieticians conduct nutritional evaluations and reassessments to determine the nature and extent of nutritional deficiencies and abnormalities in their clients. They are called upon to provide practical solutions to patients’ problems by developing individualized care plans and monitoring nutritional health status of their patients through direct observation. Dieticians administer clinical nutrition therapy and often serve as consultants to medical care teams. Dieticians and nutritionists educate and counsel individuals on nutrition and physical activity as well as prescribe appropriate treatment. Nutritionists may conduct research for food manufacturers and participate in the development of improved commercial food products and recipes or pharmaceuticals. Both, dieticians and nutritionist are qualified to manage nutritional and feeding programs as well as establishments who provide quantity food services. In clinical conditions, they direct food purchasing and menu preparation activities, ensuring that dietary services are provided as specified in the dietary portion of patient treatment plan. Dieticians and nutritionists, who work in community resources centers, are often engaged in identifying and devising methods and community resources aimed at helping specific population groups with nutrition-related problems.
To become an “RD”, Registered Dietician, one must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university and complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised practice accredited by CADE. In addition, an individual must pass a national RD examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and fulfill continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
An increasing number of schools have integrated clinical experience into their undergraduate coursework. Ample employment opportunities exist in a variety of professional settings which include hospitals, HMO’s, clinics, nursing homes, day-care centers, correctional institutions, medical or rehabilitation centers, schools, food manufacturers and processing plants, sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs, or non-profit patient resource facilities.
Food Technologists and Scientists apply their knowledge of nutrient analyses, food chemistry and safety, food production, distribution, and marketing methods along with institutional food management techniques to develop better food products and to contribute to a safe, nutritious, and wholesome food supply. Food Science program graduates hold positions in sanitation and quality control, research and development, food service management, marketing, manufacturing, processing, etc.
Typical college programs in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science cover a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from human nutrition, food science and technology, food product development and quality assurance, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociological and historical aspects of cultural food patterns to general science courses which include biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy and chemistry. Students may choose to specialize in one of the following areas of study: administration, education, research, or clinical and community dietetics.
GCC offers a Dietary Services Supervisor certificate program with an AS option. The curriculum introduces students to various elements of food service administration in a health care facility and prepares individuals to function as members of the dietetic team, under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian, Dietetic Technician, or administrator. Program graduates receive wide-ranging training in nutrition and menu planning, quantity food purchasing and preparation procedures, sanitation and safety control practices, financial management and organization of the food service.
Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor’s degree should consult with an academic counselor and/or transfer counselor to discuss university transfer requirements.
Key Skills and Characteristics
- Current registration issued by the American Dietetic Association and a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition or Dietetics from an accredited college.
- Current food handler’s permit.
- Maintaining appropriate continuing education credits (customarily within a 5 year period).
- Dietary counseling and patient care skills.
- Solid grounding in physical and biological sciences.
- Demonstrated leadership and relationship building ability.
- Focus on community program assessment and planning, collaborative partnerships.
- Advanced project management skills and ability to respond to changing circumstances and priorities.
- Problem solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
- Ability to articulate ideas and present information in a persuasive manner.
Related Career Titles
*Nutrition Specialist *Clinical or Registered or Community Dietitian & Nutritionist *Consultant Dietitian & Nutritionist *Dietitian or Clinical Educators *Management Dietitian & Nutritionist *Public Health Nutritionists *Therapeutic Dietitian & Nutritionists *Food Scientist/Technologist
Please visit the GCC Career Center to research specific occupational information and learn more about your selected career path.