Dieticians play an important role in educating and assisting the public in understanding and meeting specialized dietary requirements and maintaining health. Dieticians may assist patients struggling with weight issues, individuals with metabolic disorders, and people with food sensitivities and allergies. A dietician must understand how foods are processed by the body, as well as the nutritional requirements necessary for good health. Dieticians often work with patients one-on-one in a clinic setting, but may also facilitate support groups or teach in a classroom or seminar setting. Education requirements are strict for dieticians in Florida, mistakes and errors in this field can cause significant harm to a patient.
Registered dieticians in Florida must complete a program of study that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Dieticians must complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice prior to taking the exam, and after successfully passing must be attentive to maintain at least 75 hours of continuing education every five years. Applicants that successfully complete an accredited program of study graduate with bachelor's degree in nutrition or science. Coursework in this program has strong emphasis on anatomy, chemistry, and physiology. Algebra is required to be skilled in nutritional conversions often required in the creation of specialized diet plans. Programs often include basic skills in psychology, as some disorders that requirement treatment by a registered dietician are psychological in nature. Significant lab work is often required in a general chemistry laboratory and students will need to demonstrate an understanding of microbiology.
Most programs require a residency which fulfills the supervised practice required prior to the exam. This often provides students with hands-on experience evaluating individuals, communicating information to patients, and recording patient treatment plans and diagnostics. Dieticians often work in conjunction with other medical providers, which can vary depending on the disorder or illness of the patient. Dieticians may work in a hospital, private, or public health setting, so a variety of clinical experiences are recommended.
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