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Dietitian vs Nutritionist
The Difference between A Nutritionist and A Dietitian
In this age of wellness revolution, people are more concerned with how to choose the right foods that would comprise a balanced diet. But people need proper help in understanding the relationship between food and health. Additionally, they need proper assistance in their dietary choices so that it would fit with the kind of lifestyle that they have. A qualified professional who can suitably communicate, assist and manage them are the Nutritionists and Dietitians. The terms nutritionist and dietitian are almost always interchanged; but it should not be, because these two professions are essentially separate from each other. There is however a thin line of difference between the two professions. Yes, a dietitian must be a nutritionist. But a nutritionist is not a dietitian. How is this so?
Differences in Education
A nutritionist and/or dietitian must have earned at least a 4-year undergraduate degree of Bachelor of Science in human nutrition. But according to the Dietitians Association in Australia (DAA), the very difference between the two titles is, a dietitian must have also received further studies including substantial theory, with supervised and assessed professional practice in the areas of clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management. Only those who have taken courses accredited by the DAA are qualified to be called a dietitian. Courses such as Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Master of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) and Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics are considered qualifications to become a dietitian. The tertiary courses to qualify for dietitian comprises the subjects on food, nutrition, health and diet-related medical conditions, communication skills, counseling, education, health promotion, management, research and critical analysis. Those who do not have dietetic qualifications but have studied the areas of human nutrition, such as the course Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, are called nutritionists.
Differences in Professional Licenses
A licensed or qualified dietitian in Australia is someone who has taken nutrition and dietetic courses from schools and universities accredited by the Dietitian Association in Australia (DAA). Professional Exam in Dietetics is already waived if the person took his/her education from schools or universities accredited by DAA. If a person studied overseas, there is a need to take the Professional Exam in Dietetics to be able to work as a licensed dietitian in Australia. To be licensed, skills assessment or assessment of eligibility is necessary. This is done by applying at the DAA. Result of the assessment is usually received after about six weeks. At this point, the applicant who passed the assessment should pay from AU$115.50 for student dietitian to AU$609 for dietitians who are working more than 20 hours weekly. By then, the title Accredited Practicing Dietitian is conferred. Nutritionists or those who have only taken courses in nutrition without dietetics are not eligible for any skills assessment nor are they awarded with any form of license.
Differences in Employment
Unlike nutritionists whose job opportunities are limited, such as assisting dietitians in their work, dietitians can work in diverse settings: hospitals, nursing home, meals on wheels, hospitality and catering, food industry and the community for nutrition and public health. They can also work as a part of the research team, or train student dietitians in schools and universities, or provide consultancy services to individuals, groups and organizations which are in need of individualized diet counseling or preventive health programs in the community.
A dietitian can be called a nutritionist. But a nutritionist can never be called a dietitian. That is the difference between these two professions creating waves in the revolution of health and wellness industry.