Monday, 18 September 2017

WHAT IS DIETETICS?

"Dietitians interpret the science of nutrition to improve health and treat diseases and conditions by educating and giving practical advice to clients, patients, carers and colleagues." British Dietetic Association 
Image from qhms.com
As a lot of you may know, I am going back to University to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I get asked a lot of questions about what that means, and most people tend to assume my role will be telling people how to lose weight…fair assumption…but not exact.

HOW DID MY SEARCH FOR A CAREER CHANGE BEGIN?

Over the last few years, I realised I wanted to work within health and have such a strong passion for nutrition so I knew I wanted to incorporate that too. I started googling ‘how to become a nutritionist’ and ‘nutrition courses’ and came across many different routes which ultimately gave you the title of Nutritionist, or Nutritional Coach…they all sounded ideal and just what I was after! The best part was that most of them were achievable online and fast, with no previous nutritional or science qualifications needed. It all seemed too good to be true, so I did more research. This is a big career change for me and I wanted to make sure I did it right, and the fastest, easiest route isn’t necessarily always the best!

Online course example


After lots of reading, I found that there is a big difference between the many titles out there, Registered Dietitian, Nutritional Therapist, Nutritionist or Registered Nutritionist. I looked down many avenues….personal trainer course with a nutrition element, study online, get a Masters in Nutrition, study Nutritional Therapy as an undergraduate…there are so many options. I soon came to realise that the term Nutritionist is not protected, and ANYONE can call themselves one. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that any of the above routes are not credible or of any worth, as I know a few people who have chosen this route and are extremely knowledgeable and very successful, but as with anything, there are of course those who abuse the system, buy a quick course online and then try selling society bad advice! However, many of these online courses would be a great introduction to Nutrition and a good way to test the waters to see if it's something you would like to pursue. I myself, have taken a few courses.

To gain Registered Nutritionist, Associate Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian status, you usually have to have completed an accredited course by AfN (Association for Nutrition) or BDA (British Dietetic Association) at a credited University, and these terms are protected by law.

The BDA have an excellent guide going into more detail which you can access here


SO WHY DIETETICS?

After realising that this career choice was not as black and white as it originally seemed, I knew that the exact route I wish to pursue within nutrition was also still unclear. I like the idea of having options once I graduate. Such as working in a hospital to help treat complex clinical conditions, working with athletes to help improve performance, or working within the mental health sector and assisting those with eating disorders … Dietitians can work with both healthy and sick people in a variety of settings and are the only qualified health professionals that can assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems. They use the most up-to date nutrition scientific research which they then translate into practical guidance. I have personally chosen the Dietetics course because it interests me and offers the career opportunities I am after.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN A NUTRITIONAL CAREER

If so, I strongly recommend you read the BDA guide to the different roles and what they entail. You can read it by clicking here. There are no shortcuts! I have had to spend the summer working on my biology and chemistry, if I hadn’t have done that then I wouldn’t have been offered the place at Plymouth University. Dietetics and even Nutrition is extremely science based, which a lot of people are shocked to hear, so make sure you do your research and understand what the course and job roles entail before you sign up. If nothing else, now you know what it is I am studying and what it’s all about. Also, it's never too late, I am 27 and only just about to embark on this adventure, and I am SO excited. 

"You are never too old to dream a new dream."


Livvy

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