Patient care


Working as part of a health care team in hospitals and residential care centres, dietitians are responsible for assessing the nutritional needs of patients/residents, planning appropriate diets and educating patients and their families about dietary change.  They will liaise with doctors, other health care professionals and the food service department in order to ensure the nutritional needs of patients and residents are met.

Dietitians help people recovering from illness or surgery and those with health problems like diabetes, heart disease or swallowing difficulties and poor appetite.  In order to work in specialist areas such as paediatrics, gastroenterology and renal, several years of experience and continual professional development is usually required. Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) status is normally required for clinical dietitian positions.

The responsibilities of a clinical dietitian in a hospital include public and private inpatients and outpatients.  The workload of a clinical dietitian will vary depending on their experience and expertise and also the size of the hospital.  For example, in a large hospital there is usually a team of dietitians who are each allocated to look after particular wards such as general medical, surgical and intensive care.  Alternatively, some hospitals will only have a sole dietitian employed or a consultant dietitian.

Areas of specialisation:

Clinical dietitians may be responsible for a wide range of patient areas including:

Malnutrition (nutritional risk), nutrition support, swallowing problems, cancer (oncology), kidney disease (renal), children (paediatrics), bowel problems (gastroenterology), stroke (neurology), intensive care, bone injuries (orthopaedics), food allergies, eating disorders, surgery, liver disease, respiratory conditions, elderly, maternity, obstetrics, gynaecology, diabetes, heart disease (cardiology), weight reduction

Job titles/roles:

Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dietitian, Chief Dietitian (Manager of Nutrition Department), Deputy Dietitian, Clinical Dietitian.

Employers:

Public and private hospitals, community health centres and clinics, rehabilitation centres, dialysis centres, diabetes care clinics consultant to residential care centres.

Graduate profile:

Amanda Hill (pdf 26KB) graduated from the Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2009 at Deakin University.

Experts in the area:

Lisa Barker (pdf 24KB) provides insight into careers for dietitians in the hospital setting.

Anna Vassallo (pdf 42KB) provides insight into careers for dietitians in the community setting.

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