Dietetics Specialization

nutrition students

Challenging courses and hands-on learning experiences prepare students for entry into a dietetic internship, graduate school or immediate employment as a nutritionist.
You will experience:

  • Quality education in dietetics/nutrition with a strong science foundation.
  • Individualized attention in dietetics classes with a low student to faculty ratio.
  • High-tech classrooms and a dietetic computer laboratory with specialized nutrient analysis software.
  • Real-world learning experiences in local community nutrition programs and health care facilities.
  • Academic and career advisement by experienced faculty who hold registered dietitian (RD) and licensed

Nature of the Program

Dietitians and nutritionists plan food and nutrition programs and supervise the preparation and serving of meals. They help to prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications, such as the use of less salt for those with high blood pressure or the reduction of fat and sugar intake for those who are overweight.

Dietitians manage food service systems for institutions such as hospitals and schools, promote sound eating habits through education, and conduct research. Major areas of practice include clinical, community, management, and consultant dietetics.

Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities. They assess patients' nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. They also confer with doctors and other healthcare professionals in order to coordinate medical and nutritional needs. Some clinical dietitians specialize in the management of overweight patients or the care of critically ill or renal (kidney) and diabetic patients. In addition, clinical dietitians in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities may manage the food service department.

Community dietitians counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices designed to prevent disease and promote health. Working in places such as public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations, community dietitians evaluate individual needs, develop nutritional care plans, and instruct individuals and their families. Dietitians working in home health agencies provide instruction on grocery shopping and food preparation to the elderly, individuals with special needs, and children.

Increased public interest in nutrition has led to job opportunities in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing. In these areas, dietitians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as the nutritional content of recipes, dietary fiber, or vitamin supplements.

Management dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in healthcare facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. They hire, train, and direct other dietitians and food service workers; budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies; enforce sanitary and safety regulations; and prepare records and reports.

Consultant dietitians work under contract with healthcare facilities or in their own private practice. They perform nutrition screenings for their clients and offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, supermarkets, and other nutrition-related businesses. They may consult with food service managers, providing expertise in sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning.

Working Conditions

Most full-time dietitians and nutritionists work a regular 40-hour week, although some work weekends. About 1 in 4 work part time.

Dietitians and nutritionists usually work in clean, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. However, some dietitians work in warm, congested kitchens. Many dietitians and nutritionists are on their feet for much of the workday.

Careers

Dietitians and nutritionists held about 67,400 jobs in 2012 (U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics). More than half of all jobs were in hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, or offices of physicians and other health practitioners. State and local government agencies provided about 1 job in 5-mostly in correctional facilities, health departments, and other public health-related areas. Some dietitians and nutritionists were employed in special food services, an industry which includes firms that provide food services on contract to facilities such as colleges and universities, airlines, correctional facilities, and company cafeterias. Other jobs were in public and private educational services, community care facilities for the elderly (which includes assisted-living facilities), individual and family services, home healthcare services, and the Federal Government-mostly in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Many work environments, particularly those in medical and health care settings, require that an individual be credentialed as an RD.

Registered dietitians work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, public health, education, research, and private practice.

RDs work in:

  • Hospitals, HMOs, or other health care facilities, educating patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health care team. They may also manage the foodservice operations in these settings, as well as in schools, day-care centers, and correctional facilities, overseeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.
  • Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs, educating clients about the connection between food, fitness, and health.
  • Food and nutrition-related businesses and industries, working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, or product development.
  • Private practice, working under contract with health care or food companies, or in their own business. RDs may provide services to food service or restaurant managers, food vendors, and distributors, or athletes, nursing home residents, or company employees.
  • Community and public health settings teaching, monitoring, and advising the public, and helping to improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.
  • Universities and medical centers, teaching physicians, nurses, dietetics students, and others the sophisticated science of foods and nutrition.
  • Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities, and hospitals, directing or conducting experiments to answer critical nutrition recommendations for the public.

FAQs

What kind of salary do dietetic grads earn?
In 2012, the median annual income nationwide for registered dietitians varied by practice area: the median was $55,240 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The Dietetic Program in Dietetics (DPD) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association, ADA)., and graduates are prepared to enter an accredited internship prior to taking the Registered Dietitian Examination. The DPD Student Handbook contains more detailed information about this accredited program.

Advisors

Last Names: A-C
Dr. Judith Ashley, Professor, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6444
e-mail: jashley@cabnr.unr.edu
Office: 110 Sarah Fleischmann Bldg, UNR Campus

Last Names: D-G
Dr. Jamie Benedict, Associate Professor, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6445
e-mail: jamieb@cabnr.unr.edu
Office: 216b Sarah Fleischmann Bldg, UNR Campus

Last Names: H-Ma
Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, Assistant Professor, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6442
e-mail: mricketts@cabnr.unr.edu
Office: 105 Max Fleischmann Ag Bldg, UNR Campus

Last Names: Mb-R
Karon Felten, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6446
e-mail: kfelten@cabnr.unr.edu
Office: 215b Sarah Fleischmann Bldg, UNR Campus

Last Names: S-Z
Dr. Stan Omaye, Professor, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6447
e-mail: omaye@unr.edu
Office: 005 Sarah Fleischmann Bldg, UNR Campus