What is a dietitian?


Dietitians are Allied Health Professionals. Whether you're interested in a career as a dietitian, or you're a patient who wants to know more about who you're seeing, we've got all the information you need.

What is a dietitian and what patients do they see?

Registered dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices. They see patients of all ages, in a number of different settings, including hospital, clinics, own homes, care homes. These patients have a wide variety of conditions, including diabetes, coeliac disease, renal disease and cancer care, amongst others. All dietitians are registered and regulated by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

What’s a typical day for a dietitian?

“A typical day will vary depending upon what area of specialty the dietitian is working in. As a dietician working in a hospital I will start at 8.30am using the electronic system to check patient caseloads and priority patients to be seen. I will then attend wards and review patient’s health records for an update of condition, test results and discharge plans. Then I will see patients on the list to provide practical dietary advice as part of their treatment plan or to review their progress. After lunch I will review patient information in readiness for the Outpatient Clinic in the afternoon, which starts at 2pm. After this I will return to the dietetic office and complete patient documentation.”

Career paths for dietitians

Once qualified, dietitians can work in a wide variety of areas such as hospitals, community, GP practices, university, sport, research, freelance, media and public health. Most dietitians, once qualified, will spend a period of time working for the NHS and then progress onto other roles. Some stay very clinical and develop their expertise in specialist areas whilst others move into more managerial roles.

Why I became a dietitian

“I became a dietitian because I knew I wanted to work with people and always enjoyed learning about and cooking food. I had never heard of a dietitian prior to this point and it was only a family friend who told be about a career as I dietitian. Once I read up about it the role seemed to tick all the boxes I was looking for, and I have never looked back.”