What do Dietitians Do?

It’s a lot more than just working in a hospital.

Hello again! I hope everyone’s Monday is going great. It’s already the last week of February – can you believe it?! I know I can’t, but I’m happy to see it go. One less month of winter! Those in the northeast US know what I’m talking about.

Anyways, in today’s post I wanted to branch into the dietetics profession because some of you may be curious as to what RD’s or RDN’s do for jobs. Even today I’m still finding new avenues I could potentially walk as my career blooms. So let’s talk a little bit about what working in the profession is like.

When someone thinks of a dietitian they often picture somebody in a white coat walking through a hospital, creating diet plans for patients, and generally being responsible for overseeing anything to do with the hospital’s food. Yes, you can go this route, and yes you will find plenty of dietitians filling these clinical shoes. A rather large chunk of your dietetic intern hours will be spent in clinical as well. It’s a fantastic jumping off point for a plethora of other opportunities that are available in the field, but most importantly going into clinical is not something you have to do.

Hospitals have never been my thing. Ultimately, I entered this field not knowing what I wanted to do, but knowing very distinctly I didn’t want to work in a hospital. That immediately raised some questions among family members and friends who automatically thought dietitian = hospital (I forgave them for falling into the common misconception, don’t worry).

Last semester we had this wonderful presentation of all the different opportunities available to us budding nutritionists. The professor, who also happened to be the internship director at my college, firmly believed that anything we were interested could be married to dietetics, and we could essentially forge our own path doing exactly what we loved. The flexibility of the field is astounding, and as someone who will most likely pop around to different areas it continued to reassure me that I picked the right path.

Personally, my interests lie in marrying communications and social media with nutrition (hence this blog), but I’d also like to explore the area of pre-conception, pre-natal, pregnancy, lactation, infant, and child nutrition. And just the other day I developed a new interest in studying the microbiomes of our guts. So, needless to say, there will be a lot of hopping around to places that are totally different, yet all related through the wonderful world of nutrition.

So I know you’re probably interested in a list of possible jobs for dietitians besides working in a hospital, or even an outpatient center. Luckily I’m going to oblige!

• Supermarket dietitians
• Lactation consultants
• Food scientists
• Working for food companies either in marketing or as a food scientist
• Performing research (like the NHANES initiative or even researching our microbiomes!)
• Private consulting (our professor gave us a really great example of a consultant who just helps brides-to-be – I mean think of how great a clientele that would be!)
• Bloggers
• Food service management
• Corporate dietitian
• Working for nutrition-based magazines
• Teaching at colleges
• Nutrition education
• Community programs (such as WIC)
• The options are endless!

By marrying what you love to dietetics you can really create a career that is perfect for you. How many other fields allow you to do that? The best part about all of this is that the need for dietitians is increasing (although the reason for why is, perhaps, not so great). Regardless, if you want to be a dietitian there is definitely a job for you. If that means starting in a hospital to get your footing, then so be it. If that means getting experience through volunteer opportunities – then do it! You won’t know what your interests are until you start to experience them. The Academy’s website has a wealth of resources if you’d like to look at the job opportunities available to dietitians too.

Be open, find what you love, and make a career that’s your best fit!

fruit and vegetables

Question of the week: what sorts of things are you interested in? Do you know what you want to do in the field of dietetics or nutrition?


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