Dietician is a professional who uses the science of managing food and nutrition to promote a healthy life style. Relatively a new profession, this field has gained importance with the realization that wrong eating habits can lead to many ailments or diseases and that quality of life depends on the quality of food we eat. Dietician helps to promote good health through appropriate eating habits, thereby improving the quality of life. They assist people in planning their diet depending upon their age, medical condition and work routine. They also counsel and educate them about healthy eating and preparation of food items according to the principles of nutrition.
They promote nutritious eating habits through education and research, as well as through overseeing the selection and preparation of food services. They fix nutritional regimens for patients in a hospital, athletes in physical training camps, and mountaineers on an expedition and so on. They study the digestive process of the human being, various reactions of food stuffs in the body. They research, what is harmful and thus help to prevent diseases through a proper diet program. Some of the Dieticians specialize in areas such as obesity, paediatrics or diabetes. They form a vital part of a health team in an institutional set-up.
Organizations involved in food product manufacturing also use the services of the Dietician to plan and research new products. Dieticians also have excellent prospects in the mass media, where top priority is given to disseminating vital information on healthy living. They can 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.
With approximately 75 million diabetic patients in India and several millions suffering from changed lifestyle diseases like hypertension and cancer, communicable diseases like AIDS, dengue, tuberculosis and malaria, India is set to fight a battle against these diseases for which it will require a large and efficient team of dedicated Dieticians. So there is a good scope for today’s younger generation to make their career in this field.
To be eligible for joining Three years B.Sc. Nutrition course or Four Years Food Technology course one should be 10+2 Class pass with Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) as main subjects and for some institutions of repute with at least 60% marks.
Dietician Required Skills
Dietician should be able to give full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
They should be able to teach others how to do something; understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents and talking to others to convey information effectively.
They should be good at communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience; understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
How to become a Dietician?
Interested candidates have to appear in the entrance test conducted by various state and independent bodies to admit candidates in various affiliated institutions. The exam is objective type and it tests candidates rigorously in subjects like physics, chemistry and biology, some containing home science also.
These exams are generally held in the month of May-June. The results of these exams are generally out by June/July.
However some institutions also provide admission on the basis of marks in the qualifying examination.
Once through with the admission process one can pursue any of the following given courses:
B.Sc. Home Science (Three year course) or
B.Sc. Nutrition (Three years course) or
B.E. Food Technology (Four Year Course)
In the above mentioned courses, one has to study (subjects which include biochemistry, nutrition, applied physiology, food, microbiology, administration, therapeutic nutrition, and public health nutrition).
Note: Any candidate, who has not taken any of the above food science degrees and still wants to become a Dietician, can pursue a Master's in Nutrition course provided by some of renowned Indian Universities like University of Mumbai and Delhi University.
Armed with undergraduate degree prospective Dieticians can get a provisional registration certificate from the Medical Council of India by remitting a nominal fee of Rs.1000 along with a pass certificate from a recognized Indian University.
Note: In case you are a foreigner you are required to submit a copy of your degree certificate along with your passport and mark sheets with a fee of Rs.1000 in the form of a bank draft for getting this certificate from Medical Council of India.
After getting the provisional registration certificate you can do one year dietetic internship – usually unpaid - required to become a practicing dietician in India. You can apply for this internship in some of the best hospital in India like Sagar Hospitals in Bangalore, Christian Medical College Hospital in Ludhiana and Ramchandra Medical College and Hospital in Chennai.
Becoming the life member of IDA and taking up the Registered Dietetics Exam (after 6 months of membership) conducted every year by Indian Dietetics Association is the final step towards becoming a Registered Dietician.
Registration for IDA membership and application forms for the RD exam can be downloaded from the IDA website. Exams forms should be submitted by 31st August with Rs.500 in the year you are applying for the exam.
Dietician Career Prospects
There is a lot of scope for prospective Dietician; it is evident from the fact that a large number of youngsters are joining Dietetics as career. Apart from joining a private or government hospital as an Assistant Dietetics, younger Dietetics can find lucrative placements with huge salaries in corporate hospitals.
The starting salary can vary anywhere between Rs.15,000 to Rs.20,000 depending upon the competence of the individual Dietician. There is a lot of money in private practice as well and it only gets better for candidates as they win the trust of their patients. A couple of years dedicated work and some experience along with a masters degree can lead a Dietetics to a pay package of nearly Rs.40,000 per month.
Nutritionist is a broad term that describes one who could have a 3-4 years degree in nutrition or higher qualification or experience in nutrition.
Dietician is one who has met specific requirements that represent this title. He/She has at least a four-year degree in nutrition, dietetics.