Dietetic technicians assist dietitians in planning nutritional programmes and in planning menus for patients as part of an overall treatment plan under the supervision of a dietitian. Under the supervision of a dietitian, dietetic technicians assist dietitians in patient reviews, enteral feeding discharge planning, and clinical auditing, which includes nutritional screening.
The duties of a dietetic technician typically include, but are not limited to:
- planning client meals, counselling clients, and monitoring patients’ progress
- booking appointments and checking in patients
- reviewing clients’ records to identify potential issues and provide recommendations
- adhering to nutritional guidelines when educating and monitoring patients
- conducting nutrition and diet classes
- lecturing patients at health and dietary institutions and organizations, such as community wellness centres, weight management clinics, and health food clubs
- assisting dietitians in providing nutritional therapy to clients in health clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and research facilities
- drafting and presenting study curriculums for nutritional programs at private or public health organizations and agencies for women, children, and infants
- monitoring food safety, gathering data, preparing labels, and analyzing nutrients for food companies to ensure adherence to safety standards and protocols
- purchasing and preparing food and overseeing food service professionals at restaurants and cafeterias in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, and daycare centres.
The following job titles also refer to dietetic technician:
medical dietetics technician
technician in dietetics
nutrition assistant practitioner
technician in medical dietetics
assistant nutrition practitioner
clinical dietetic technician
clinical diet technician
dietetic science technician
Dietetic technicians work in varying environments. For example, some may work in institutional kitchens, where they usually stand while preparing meals. The work hours vary and may include weekends and holidays. Other dietetic technicians may work at government agencies or private offices during regular business hours.
Alternatively, a dietetic technician may work directly with clients. Regardless of the work environment, dietitians abide by strict sanitary and safety standards and require tact and patience when working with clients. They also require strong interpersonal, teamwork, and communication skills as the role involves collaboration with other healthcare professionals.
An associate’s degree in dietetics or a related field is generally required to work as a dietetic technician.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Dietetic technician is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Dietetic technician career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dietetic technician.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of dietetic technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of dietetic technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of dietetic technician.
- Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
- Counselling methods: Counselling techniques used in different settings and with various groups and individuals, especially concerning methods of supervision and mediation in the counselling process.
- Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
- Calculation of food energy: The summing up of the total energy of food by adding together the energy provided by the proteins, total fat, carbohydrates and dietary fibers contained in one meal or food product.
- Nutrition of healthy persons: The type of nutrition needed for healthy individuals of all ages.
- Composition of diets: The planning, selection, composition and manufacturing of diets for healthy and ill persons.
- Food hygiene rules: The set of national and international regulations for hygiene of foodstuffs and food safety, e.g. regulation (EC) 852/2004.
- Professional documentation in health care: The written standards applied in the health care professional environments for documentation purposes of one`s activity.
- Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
- Medical informatics: The processes and tools used for the analysis and dissemination of medical data through computerized systems.
- Food preservation: Deterioration factors, controlling factors (temperature, additives, humidity, pH, water activity, etc., including packaging) and food processing methods to preserve food products.
- Dietetics: The human nutrition and dietary modification for optimising health in clinical or other environments. The role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing illness across the life spectrum.
- Food safety standards: Food safety standards (i.e. ISO 22000) developed by the recognised organisations for Standardization dealing with food safety. For example, the ISO 22000 international standard specifies the requirements for an effective food safety management system. It covers interactive communication, system management, prerequisite programs and HACCP principles.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of dietetic technician.
- Assess nutritional characteristics of food: Assess nutritional characteristics of food for human consumption for a better healthy diet.
- Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
- Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
- Monitor stock level: Evaluate how much stock is used and determine what should be ordered.
- Use food preparation techniques: Apply food preparation techniques including the selecting, washing, cooling, peeling, marinating, preparing of dressings and cutting of ingredients.
- Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, health care professionals, and community partners.
- Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
- Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
- Educate healthcare users on nutrition: Help healthcare users and caregivers with choosing meals from a modified therapeutic selective menu, explaining nutritional principles, dietary plans and diet modifications, food selection and preparation and providing and explaining materials and publications to support the nutrition care plan.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Plan patient menus: Plan menus for patients according to the specified treatment plan.
- Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
- Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
- Interact with healthcare users: Communicate with clients and their carers, with the patient’s permission, to keep them informed about the clients’ and patients’ progress and safeguarding confidentiality.
- Prepare infant formulae: Prepare infant formulae according to specifications.
- Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dietetic technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Medical terminology: The meaning of medical terms and abbreviations, of medical prescriptions and various medical specialties and when to use it correctly.
- Geriatrics: Geriatrics is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
- Obesity: The causes, pathophysiology and effects on health of the excess of body fat.
- Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.
- European food safety policy: Assurance of a high level of food safety within the EU through coherent farm-to-table measures and adequate monitoring, while ensuring an effective internal market. The implementation of this approach involves various actions, namely:
- assure effective control systems and evaluate compliance with EU standards in the food safety and quality, within the EU and in third countries in relation to their exports to the EU;
- manage international relations with third countries and international organisations concerning food safety;
- manage relations with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and ensure science-based risk management.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dietetic technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Store raw food materials: Keep in reserve raw materials and other food supplies, following stock control procedures.
- Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
- Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.
- Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or services providers. Use foreign languages to facilitate patient care according to the needs of the patient.
ISCO group and title
3259 – Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
- Dietetic technician – ESCO
- What a Diet Technician? | Indeed.com Canada
- Dietetic Technician – Job Description, Skills, and Education – Resume Now
- Featured image: By Andreas Bohnenstengel, CC BY-SA 3.0 de