Where do dietitians work and what do they do?

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There are over 10,000 dietitians in Canada and you’ll find dietitians working everywhere. More than half of dietitians in Canada work in a hospital but over the years, the role of a dietitian has expanded. Many dietitians work in healthcare settings like long-term care homes, community health centres, health clinics, or in private practice. You can also find dietitians working in public health, government, education and research. Dietitians also have roles in the food or pharmaceutical industry, or areas like sports nutrition and in the media.  

See the chart below for some examples of what dietitians do in different work settings.

Where do dietitians work and what do they do?

Where do dietitians work

What do dietitians do?

In hospitals

  • Assess and plan nutrition care for patients with cancer, kidney disease, digestive issues, malnutrition and more
  • Ensure critically ill patients get the nutrition they need
  • Counsel patients who need special diets for their medical condition or to support recovery, for example after surgery
  • Ensure patient meals are high quality and prepared and delivered safely 

In doctor’s offices, medical clinics or in private practice

  • Support patients who need information and guidance about food allergies, pregnancy, infant feeding, diabetes, digestive issues, heart disease, high blood pressure and more
  • Provide education around healthy eating and managing health conditions to individuals or small groups
  • Provide virtual or in-person nutrition care to support families, including help with meal planning, grocery shopping and challenges like ‘picky eaters’, special diets and more

In long-term care

  • Assess and plan nutrition care for residents
  • Plan menus, staffing and budget to provide the best nutrition for residents
  • Ensure meals are prepared and delivered safely

In community health centres and public health units

  • Identify health problems in the community
  • Assess the nutrition needs of population groups and communities
  • Plan and deliver nutrition education programs, cooking and food skills programs and school nutrition programs
  • Develop nutrition education materials and tools
  • Increase access to food for those with limited income, transportation or who are isolated
  • Help individuals and communities stay healthy

In diabetes education centres

  • Educate and counsel clients who are living with diabetes or trying to prevent diabetes

In people’s homes

  • Counsel people who are housebound on special diets
  • Train and educate people who are on feeding tubes
  • Help families plan healthy menus

In the pharmaceutical industry

  • Educate doctors, nurses, pharmacists, sales staff, and other dietitians on new products and research
  • Plan and deliver continuing education opportunities for health care professionals and consumers

In the food industry

  • Research and develop healthier food products
  • Educate consumers on food, nutrition, and health
  • Consult with marketing and foodservice associations
  • Develop, promote and market food and nutrition products
  • Ensure manufacturers follow regulations around food labeling, nutrition claims and food safety

In government

  • Develop food and nutrition policies
  • Provide strategic advice on nutrition issues for different levels of government and different ministries

In education

  • Teach nutrition to students in dietetics, nursing, medicine, kinesiology, pharmacy, dentistry and more
  • Mentor and train future dietitians
  • Support the development of nutrition research skills

In research

  • Plan and direct research projects to increase knowledge of the relationship between food, nutrition and health

In sports and recreation

  • Help recreational and professional athletes get the most out of their activity
  • Counsel athletes on hydration, eating for competitions and other nutrition concerns related to physical activity

In business

  • Work for food and nutrition-related businesses providing expertise in product development, communications, marketing, consumer affairs and public relations
  • Plan and deliver corporate wellness programs

In the media

  • Write cookbooks or other nutrition-related books
  • Create written content for blogs, social media, newspapers, magazines, websites and make TV appearances

Canadians are more aware of their food choices, shopping smarter, and opting for better nutrition now more than ever before. This means that more employers are realizing the value that a dietitian can bring to a workplace.

Find a dietitian near you

It’s easy to find a dietitian near you, visit Find a Dietitian. You can search by postal code, city, and/or health condition.

Many dietitians offer services virtually and most employee benefit plans cover dietitian services. Check your plan today. If your benefits don't cover dietitian services, share this resource with your employer.

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Last Update – November 30, 2020

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