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Becoming a Dietician : Schools and Degree Programs

Canadian Schools offering diet

What is a Dietician?
Dieticians are experts in nutrition and food. They advise individuals on what to eat. This helps people achieve a specific health related goal or obtain a healthy lifestyle. To do this, dieticians use different methods that include the following.

  • Public Education
  • Individual Counselling
  • Developing Programs for Business and Government

In Canada today, Dieticians are in demand. This is due to an increased awareness of the relationship between good health and good eating habits. Because of this, they play an increasingly vital role that contributes to the well-being and health of Canadians.

Entrance Requirements

In order to be accepted into a program, college students must complete the following prerequisites in their first and second years.

  • Biology
  • Physical and Organic Chemistry
  • English
  • Food, Nutrition and Health
  • Biochemistry
  • Land, Food and Community I
  • Social Science

After finishing these prerequisites, students can apply to the main program. Requirements to be considered for application include the following.

  • Schools Application Form
  • Cover Letter
  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Two Completed References in Sealed Envelopes

Admission to the general course is also based on academic standings. To be a candidate, an applicant must have a minimum 70 percent overall GPA for all prerequisite subjects. Additionally, some schools consider nonacademic application components.

Short listed applicants will be interviewed. This is done when applicants have submitted both the academic and non academic application components. The brief personal interview is done within 15 minutes. Interviewing personnel includes two admission committee members. Interviews are done to assess the following skills.

  • Oral Communication Skills
  • Commitment to Dietetics
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Decision Making Skills

Education / Degree Program

A dietetic course in Canada usually takes five years that include two prerequisite years and three program years. The fifth year is spent on internships. The prerequisite years along with the third and fourth years are spent in the classroom and the laboratory. Third year curriculums include the following.

  • General Biochemistry
  • Food Theory
  • Fundamentals of Nutrition
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Professional Dietetics Practice I and II
  • Human Physiology
  • Land Food and Community II

A fourth year curriculum typically includes the following.

  • Principles of Organizational Behaviour
  • Food Service  Systems Management
  • Clinical Dietetics I and II
  • Human Nutrition thru the Life Span
  • Professional Dietetic Practice III

During the fifth year, Students undergo internships at different health facilities. These internships usually last for 10 months. During these internships, students are able to get a closer look at the different roles of a dietician. However, these are done under the supervision of a facilitator. Internship programs must be approved by The Dietitians of Canada. The rotations include exposure in the following.

  • Geriatric care
  • Paediatric Care
  • Diabetes Education
  • General Medicine

Accreditation

All dietary schools in Canada are accredited by The Dietitians of Canada (www.dietitians.ca).

Registration

After completing an internship, students are ready to take the Canadian Dietetics Registration Exam. This exam is held on the first Saturday in November and the second Saturday in May every year. It is offered in nine Canadian provinces. The exam is conducted by the Alliance of Canadian Dietetic Regulatory Bodies. It is usually a multiple choice examination. It is designed to test the following abilities.

  • Practice Based Knowledge
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Application Skills

This exam is a requirement to practice as a Dietician in all Canadian provinces except Quebec.

Dietician Specializations

In Canada, there are several specializations for registered dieticians that include the following.

Clinical Dieticians

These dieticians work in nursing facilities, hospitals and other health care facilities. They provide nutrition therapy for different kinds of patients. They also provide dietary consultations for clients and their families. Additionally, they work together with other health care professionals. This enables them to develop an individual plan that meets nutritional requirements.

Community Dieticians

These dieticians work in the following areas.

  • Public Health Agencies
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Home Care Agencies

They also distribute and apply knowledge about nutrition and food. They often focus on the needs of the following individuals.

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Individuals with limited access to healthy food
  • People with special needs

Foodservice Dietitians

These dieticians focus on large scale food service and planning. They also assess, plan and coordinate food service processes in the following.

  • School Food Service Programs
  • Restaurants
  • Prisons
  • Health Care Facilities
  • Company Cafeterias

They also perform audits on food departments. This ensures food safety standards and quality control meet nutritional and health requirements. They may also launch menus to meet nutritional and health guidelines.

Gerontological Dieticians

These dietitians specialize in aging and nutrition. They work in the following settings.

  • Nursing Homes
  • Government agencies for aging policies
  • Community based aged care institutions
  • Higher Education in Gerontology

Paediatric Dieticians

Paediatric dieticians provide health advice and nutrition for children, infants and adolescents. They focus on early nutritional requirements. They also work closely with the following.

  • School Health Services
  • Doctors
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Government Agencies

This is done to implement and develop treatment plans for kids with food allergies, eating disorders and childhood obesity.

Research Dieticians

These dieticians are heavily involved in dietetics related research. This research is conducted in conjunction with the following.

  • Universities
  • Hospitals
  • Beverage and Food Companies
  • Government Agencies
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
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