Dietetic assistants are crucial helpers in managing diet and nutrition. They work alongside dieticians and advise patients on their food choices, leading them to a more fulfilling and healthier lives. Dietetic assistants can be extremely beneficial for patients with strict food regimes, helping them with recovery.
Who are dietetic assistants?
Working as a dietetic assistant, you’ll be working with individuals and provide dietary to both staff and patients. You will be making great impacts on patients’ care and applying nutritional knowledge to decide on the appropriate plan for the patients. Working in local communities, dietetic assistants will be helping both the healthy and sick people with their dietary needs.
Type of patients who dietary assistance help is:
- People with digestive problems
- Overweight or obesity people who would like to lose weight
- Patients with condition that affects their ability to eat
- People who need to put on weight after an illness
- Unhealthy eating disorder
A dietetic assistant will be assessing, diagnosing and treating dietary and nutritional problems. Dietetic assistants often work in teams, informing and advising the public and healthcare experts about the importance of diet and staying healthy.
A dietetic assistants main duties include:
- Helping patients choose from the hospital menu
- Ordering supplies
- Monitor patient’s nutrition in take
- Update patients’ records
- Inform and direct patients on how to use feeding tubes and pumps
- Conduct health exams, measuring patient’s growth and weight
- Explain and consult on patient diet and nutrition plan
They would often review patient’s treatment plans, write up notes and discharge patients per a dietician request. This may also include counselling sessions with family members, writing prescriptions and completing referrals.
Dietetic assistants are often employed in hospitals and clinics. Often, they might have to visit patients in their homes or long-term residential care facilities. Dietetic assistants may also visit schools and community settings to inform the public and talk about diet and nutrition.
The path to becoming a dietetic assistant is fairly simple. There aren’t any set entry requirements, however, having previous experience and qualifications in health or social care or even voluntary work will put you at an advantage. An employer may ask for certifications such as an NVQ, BTEC or equivalent qualification in health and social care.
Further training will be given when you’ve been applied to the job. This includes an intro to the department and the equipment’s use. You might even be offered the opportunities to obtain certifications such as:
- The NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
- The NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
Some dietetic assistants also join the Dietetic Association and advance their studies through the provided courses, conferences and seminars.
Skills and personal characteristics
Though becoming a dietetic assistant isn’t difficult, to excel as one many skills will be needed. If you’re a person who has an interest in science and food and would like to improve people’s lifestyles with a positive and motivating attitude you might be the perfect person for this job. Working as a dietetic assistant, you will need patience and empathy, for the people you meet might be in dire situations.
Furthermore, you’ll need to be able to explain complex things in a simple manner in order to have patients understand the dietary program thoroughly. You will have to be quite organized and competent in communicating, as you’ll be working in teams and in collaboration with other physicians.
Pay and benefits
The working standard for a dietetic assistant is around 37.5 hours and could be in a mix of shifts, including early in the days or at weekends. The job outlook for a dietetic assistant is very promising. According to the BLS, the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 18% from 2012 to 2022. The average median salary for a dietetic is around $25,780.
Working as a dietetic assistant will be an opportunity for you to experience and apply the nutritional knowledge you’ve learned. The profession will be a great start to your medical career, especially when you’re still deciding between becoming a dietician and nutritionist.