Public Health Dietician

Public Health Dietician Careers

Trying to find a career that fits your lifestyle needs and also inspires you can be a difficult task.  The changing economic structure has shifted many of the public demands to ones of need  This has resulted in the restructuring of many industries and a rapidly changing job market.

Healthcare is still a thriving field, especially since the focus has become one of prevention and management instead of just treatment.  Public health dietitians fill both a public need and a health promotion opening.  If you are interested in helping to shape your community into a mode of better health, then the employment as a public health dietician can offer you a good job that also helps the community.

What Is A Public Health Dietician?

Public health dietitians help to design meal plans for the public and for facilities, so that proper nutritional needs are met.  They help to coordinate with food suppliers and facility administrators in order to provide menus that meet specific client needs.  This may include developing healthier school lunches, or providing supplemental nutrition to special populations.

As a public health dietician, you would be engaged in the following activities:

  •   Assessing and discussing current eating habits of clients to determine nutritional needs.
  •   Educating clients about the importance of specific foods and nutrients.
  •   Developing meal plans for individuals to promote health and wellbeing.
  •   Evaluating current food provisions within the community or specific facilities.
  •   Presenting education for the public to raise awareness surrounding food choices.
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Public health dietitians will also require the following skills to excel at their job:

  •   Communication skills:  You will need to be able to share information with clients and facility managers, as well as be able to listen to patients about health concerns and personal wellness goals.
  •   Analytical thinking:  Based on client information and available resources, you will also need to be able to consider specific and general food needs to accommodate overall wellness.
  •   Problem solving skills:  In many cases you may be working to change existing food choices, and you will need to come up with viable methods to incorporate better nutrition into present protocols.
  •   Organization:  You will be required to keep track of a lot of individual information as well as group records.  This will mean that you need to be able to stay focused and aware of different clients in different environments. 

Nature Of The Work

Public health dieticians may be employed at a variety of facilities, from hospitals and long term care homes, to public schools and community soup kitchens.  This job would require that you not only provide basic nutritionally balanced provisions, but that you would also work with community health initiatives to address such issues as obesity, malnourishment, and chronic health conditions.  Along with planning and coordinating food services for facilities and the public, you may also be asked to conduct educational lectures for the community.

Education And Training

To work as a public health dietician you will require a four year Bachelor’s degree.  As an educational background, it is important to study nutrition, physiology, biology, and related science courses.  Most courses will include a practical component, but you may need to complete a six month internship or residency for training.  Some employers will provide this training on the job.

You will also have to pass the state board exam in order to become licensed as a registered dietician.  This will also require continuing education and credit hours in order to maintain that licensure.  Public health dieticians are sometimes required to hold certification as a health educator, although this will depend on your employer

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Public health dieticians are able to influence the general welfare of the community, and compensation for this position is fairy competitive.  Entry level applicants may start at $34,000 per year, but median wages are closer to $55,000.  Federal and state employment will often offer the highest salaries, but advancement in all position for a public health dietician is quite attainable,

This career path not only offers a number of work settings, but is also above average in rate of occupational growth.  A nearly 21% increase in jobs is expected over the next decade, and with the expansion of long term care considerations, this number could become much higher.  The position of public health dietician offers a number of work environments, and a stable growth rate that could make it an ideal career choice.

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