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24-Sep. 2010

Dietitian as a Health Care Career

nutr_blogimage from: AskTheTrainer.com

It's hard to turn a page these days without reading something about the epidemic of diabetes in the US. Great strides are being made in the treatment of this disease through the efforts of folks who have chosen to be a nutritionist or dietitian as their health care career.

The Bureaus of Labor Statistics has some encouraging things to say about this health care career choice.

Dietitians and nutritionists plan food and nutrition programs, supervise meal preparation, and oversee the serving of meals. They prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications. For example, dietitians might teach a patient with high blood pressure how to use less salt when preparing meals, or create a diet reduced in fat and sugar for an overweight patient.

Dietitians manage food service systems for institutions such as hospitals and schools, promote sound eating habits through education, and conduct research. Many dietitians specialize, becoming a clinical dietitian, community dietitian, management dietitian, or consultant.

Job Outlook: Applicants with specialized training, an advanced degree, or certifications beyond the particular State’s minimum requirement should enjoy the best job opportunities.

Employment change. Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is expected to increase 9 percent during the 2008-18 projection decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job growth will result from an increasing emphasis on disease prevention through improved dietary habits. A growing and aging population will boost demand for nutritional counseling and treatment in hospitals, residential care facilities, schools, prisons, community health programs, and home healthcare agencies. Public interest in nutrition and increased emphasis on health education and prudent lifestyles also will spur demand, especially in food service management.

Also, with increased public awareness of obesity and diabetes, Medicare coverage has been expanded to include medical nutrition therapy for renal and diabetic patients, creating job growth for dietitians and nutritionists specializing in those diseases.

Employment growth, however, may be constrained if some employers substitute other workers, such as health educators, food service managers, and dietetic technicians, to do work related to nutrition. Also, demand for nutritional therapy services is related to the ability of patients to pay, either out-of-pocket or through health insurance, and although more insurance plans now cover nutritional therapy services, the extent of such coverage varies among plans. Growth may be curbed by limitations on insurance reimbursement for dietetic services.

The earning potential is pretty god:

Median annual wages of dietitians and nutritionists were $50,590 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,060 and $61,790. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,460, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,410.

We are lucky to have several excellent schools that specialize in this field on our roster of health care training choices. You can get free information today by clicking the links on the left side of this page.

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