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Who are Dietitians?, and What's a Nutritionist? Careers in Nutrition and Dietetics

Here are some examples of different careers from expert Registered Dietitian Joanne Larsen

HI, I am a student and I am majoring in dietetics. We are supposed to do this interview assignment. It isn't for a job, but just for the information. If you have time, I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer the following questions. Basically, I want to find out if this is a job I would really be interested in. I have never talked to an actual dietitian, but I am really interested in food and helping people be more healthy.

1. What kind of education and training did you receive? Which certifications and licenses?

2. What is your field of interest and in that field, which qualifications are need?

3. What is the company, organization, agency, or institute are you employed with?

4. What kind of on the job training did you receive? What are some of the responsibilities of your position? What is the salary range for the field?

5. Do you have opportunities for advancement? Are you involved in any current training or advanced degree work? What former work experiences have you had related to this position?

6. What are your professional responsibilities? What personal and professional qualities are needed for this position?

7. Has your personal life been affected by the profession?

8. What work experiences and classes should I pursue while I am in school preparing to be a dietitian?

Thank you very much for taking your time to read through and answer my questions.

With great appreciation.

I would highly recommend that before you spend your time and money educating yourself for a career, talk to dietitians about their jobs. Ask them about a typical day, what they like / dislike about their jobs, how they got their job, etc. Does this describe a job that you would like? Also, check out the salary survey of ADA members, which was published August 2001. You should find it in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. After you read the survey ask yourself does this meet your salary expectations?

Here are some dietitian salaries from JADA August 2001: Area of Practice Median Salary
Clinical Dietitian $37,565
Food and Nutrition Management $48,370
Community Nutrition $37,990
Consultation and Business $48,810
Education and Research $47,040
Dietetic Technician $27,430

My Bachelor's degree is in Dietetics with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. My Master's degree is in Nutrition with a minor in counseling and guidance from North Dakota State University in Fargo. I am registered with the American Dietetic Association and licensed in Minnesota. I did not do an internship, but completed practical experience during graduate school instead. I worked one year as a student dietitian at the University of Illinois Research Hospital in Chicago between my bachelor's and master's degrees.

My passion has been clinical practice, but I also loved forming a nutritional support service (intensive care nutrition with oral or tube feedings or IV formulas) in a community hospital. So you would call me a generalist rather than specializing in say diabetes or pediatrics. I was the only clinical dietitian in a 173 bed hospital with an attached 125 bed long term care facility (nursing home) so I worked with every type of patient and diet.

Dietitian qualifications are a 4 year degree in dietetics or nutrition with a 9 - 12 month internship or completion of a coordinated undergraduate program that combines classroom and clinical experience.

I am the president of a corporation whose mission is using computer technology and the Internet to deliver nutrition information, data and software. During the course of my professional career, I have worked as a clinical dietitian in a hospital and long term care, out patient medical clinic, consultant to an anorexia / bulimia (eating disorders) program at a mental health center, taught at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and 2 dietetic technician programs in Minneapolis before designing software for a CDROM publisher and starting my consulting corporation.


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This site was created by Daniel Vargas in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.