Nutrition & Dietetics: A Right Career Choice
In India As nutritional studies was initiated in the 1930s as a part of Home Science. While earlier, it was limited to that of a finishing and grooming school with courses in cooking and textile management, importance of courses in nutrition education started getting attention in the early 1960s. Currently, numerous new areas of practice have endowed the nutrition domain with tremendous popularity.
Difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist
Dietitians work in hospitals, clinics, health centres, wellness projects, fitness and sports centres or work independently to plan and oversee the diets for patients. They also ensure the quality and hygiene levels in the hospital kitchen. To do well in their careers, dietitians must be updated with diseases, medicines, treatment.
Nutritionists are involved in the fields of food science, community development, research projects and FMCG or Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies. Research takes up a big role in this domain. Public health nutritionists are mostly involved in the developmental area. They dwell in the science of biochemistry and food science and are not involved in clinical nutrition as a dietitian does.
How to kick-start your career
Opt for a nutrition degree course after plus two. A number of programmes are offered for studying graduation, post-graduation with diverse combinations. Delhi University offers B.Sc in Home Science with Food and Nutrition as a combination subject. One can opt for either B.Sc Home Science (Pass) or (Honors). In the Honours program students can specialise in Food and Nutrition in the second and third year, whereas the Pass program, is without any scope for specialisation. Only students with science backgrounds having studied subjects like Biochemistry, Botany, Physics, Zoology and Chemistry can opt the Honours program. However, two most renowned colleges – Lady Irwin and IHE – accepts students from both science and non-science backgrounds.
The best way is to go through the curriculum before taking admission. Graduation in nutrition and dietetics involves a yearly cost of around Rs. 10,000 depending on the college. Diplomas cost more the course content is integrated to make it a one-year program.
A course in nutrition and dietetics includes
Identifying nutrition and dietary problems
Formulate socially, economically and technologically workable ways to control nutrition and dietary issues
Create innovative management and administration practice to check nutrition
Promoting research on nutrition and developing future scientists
Recommending governments and health bodies on issues related with nutrition
Best institutes to study nutrition
Institute of Health Systems (IHS)
Lady Irwin College
Avinashilingam University for Women
Students aspiring for a postgraduate degree can either opt for a one-year Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition (DDPHN) or a two-year Master’s programme.
The program includes subjects like
Research Methods and Computer applications
Food Microbiology and Food Safety
Food Science and Quality Control
Advanced Human Nutrition
Physiology and Principles of Food Science
Area of specialisation for MSc in Food and Nutrition
Public Health Nutrition
Advancing in the field
Institutes like Nutrition Foundation of India (NFI) are mostly involved in research. Such institutes take in MSc nutritionists for PhD or research work and organise seminars and symposia to bring out recommendations. At NFI, one can finish PhD in 5 years.
After finishing their studies some aspiring professionals are credited by Indian Dietetics Association (IDA) as registered dietitians, which they use while working at hospitals, day-care clinics and consultancy clinics. However, the credentials requires specific academic and practice requirements.
Skills and aptitude
Interest in food and related fields
Good communication and interaction skills
Skills to write reports, documentation, brochures
Excellent aptitude for research
Patience and concern
Planning and organizational skill
FMCGs and Pharmaceutical companies
Companies and organizations
Taj Group of Hotels
In developed countries especially in America and Europe, dietitians often known as Diet Masters play a vital role. In the United States, a medical dietitian with good academic background earns around $20,000-40,000 per month.
Community education officer
Health promotion specialist
International aid/development worker
Medical sales representative
Researching the nutritive value of food
Understanding all food components
Advising people on eating habits
Planning diets that will improve health
Research the nutritive value of food
Understand all food components
Advise people on eating habits
Plan diets that will improve health
Salary depends on location, educational qualification and experience. A nutritionist in tier II or III town will be paid less than the one in a metro. Dietitians working in big hospitals and medical care centres will earn well than a dietitian working independently.
One can start his/her career with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000 to 20,000. However, with experience, the pay scale may reach the figure of Rs 30,000 plus. With the Sixth Pay Commission the salary slabs have risen to Rs. 25,000 in government hospitals.
Author: Baishali Mukherjee
Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.
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