Definitions of Dietitians and Nutritionists
doris at c-path.com
Thu Mar 6 21:26:07 PST 1997
Two if my Dietetic students wrote this which may help:
Community and Public Health Nutritionists
What is community nutrition?
Community nutrition ranges from a population focus to a client focus,
targeting groups throughout the life span. Prevention plays a prominent
role in community nutrition. Prevention includes three essential
components: personal health, community-based, and systems-based.
Personal health deals with prevention issues at the individual level.
Community-based prevention targets groups. Prevention at the
systems-level focuses on changing policies and law so that the goals of
prevention practices are achieved. Community nutrition practice involves
making appropriate and coordinated use of each component of prevention.
A community nutritionist is generally one who has achieved the minimum
of a baccalaureate in nutrition or a related field and training in
community nutrition or dietetics. Knowledge base required for community
nutrition includes nutrition in health and disease, public health
issues, behavioral sciences, and communication sciences. Community
nutrition professionals can continue their education in a specific
direction or they can expand their knowledge base by joining
professional organizations such as the Society of Nutrition Education,
The American Public Health Association, or a Council in the American
Heart Association. If they qualify for membership, they may also join
one or more Dietetic Practice Groups (DPG's) of the American Dietetic
Association, such as Public Health Nutrition. Community nutrition is a
contemporary and comprehensive field that encompasses a variety of
skills. Being an R.D is recommended.
A public health nutritionist is generally one who achieves a masters or
doctoral degree with training in advanced nutrition, public health,
health education, behavioral science or education, and experience in
nutrition or a related field. The public health nutritionist helps
assess the community nutrition needs and plans, administers,
coordinates, and evaluates the nutritional component of an agency
program. Avenues for training the public health nutritionist may be the
Approved Pre-professional Practice Program (AP4), didactic program in
dietetics, or dietetic internship.
The community/public health nutritionist plans, organizes, coordinates,
and evaluates the nutrition component of health care services for
organizations. Community nutrition programs may comprise both nutrition
education and food service.
The task list of the nutritionist may include some of the following:
Teaching is typically a component of the community nutritionist's job.
Topics may include grocery shopping, the preparation of infant formula,
menu planning for diabetes, breast feeding, and dietary treatment for
Developing and implementing plan of care based on assessment of
nutritional needs and available sources and correlates the plan with
other health care.
Evaluating nutritional care and provides follow-up continuity of care.
Instructing individuals and families in nutritional principles, diet,
food selection, and economics and adapts teaching plans to individual
Providing consultation to and works with community groups.
Conducting or participating in in-service, education, and consultation
with professional staff and supporting personnel of their own and
Planning or participating in development of program proposals for
Planning, conducting, and evaluating dietary studies and participates
in nutritional and epidemiologic studies with nutritional component.
Evaluating food service systems and makes recommendation for
conformance level that will provide optimal nutrition and quality food
if associated with group care institutions.
In addition, when working with public health agencies additional duties
may include the following:
Advising low income family members on how to plan, budget, shop,
prepare balanced meals and handle and store food.
Advising clients on proper foods to purchase with food stamps.
Assisting in planning a food budget utilizing charts and sample
Advising clients on preferred methods of sanitation.
Recommending alternate, economical, and nutritional food choices to
Directing a food supplement and nutrition program for women, children,
and other community members.
Skills recommended for careers in public health/community nutrition:
Communicate effectively in writing and orally
Understand the apllication of various computer programs
Think creatively, i.e., develop new approaches as needed, focus on
outcomes, and exercise initiative, ingenuity, and sound judgment in
identifying and solving problems
Perform direct dietary counseling
Practice empathy and sensitivity to patients/clients needs
Prepare educational material and programs
Participate as an active nutrition advocate in the legislative process
Communicate in public/mass media
Create and deliver in-service education programs
Administer/manage program staff
Interpret research and its implications for the practice of public
health and nutrition
Apply principles of financial management of health services such as
reimbursement systems and forecasting of fiscal needs
Develop, program, and delegate responsibilities to a variety of
trained individuals during research, implementation, and analysis
A knowledge base for community nutrition professionals should also
Factors that impact the safety of the food supply system
How to promote oral health
Nutrition priorities at different stages throughout the life span
Techniques for effective behavior modification
How to evaluate nutrition claims and popular literature for accuracy,
reliability, and practical implications
Available funding sources for public health and public health
Federal, state, and local governmental structures and the processes
involved in the development of public policy, legislation, and
regulations that influence nutrition and health services.
Scientific research methods across all age and ethnic groups for
primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention
How to work with and communicate with groups to recruit and retain
research and program participants
How to target and pinpoint high risk individuals for assessment and
Compiled by Helen DeMarco and Melissa Gibson, Dietetic Interns 2/97
Doris Fredericks, MEd, RD
Choices For Children
More information about the PHNUTR-L