The Role of Dieticians

In this month’s blog, we want to put the spotlight on dieticians and take an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the expertise and role of registered dietitians. Have you ever wondered what it is that dietitians do, and how they contribute to patient care?

Dietitians have gained expertise in food and nutrition, and are committed to improving the health of their patients and community. They are an integral part of a holistic, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary approach to patient care.

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but only a registered dietitian or dietitian specialist (the exact title may differ according to region) has completed multiple layers of education and training established by their national accreditation agency. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, a registered dietitian must fulfill a specially designed, accredited nutrition curriculum, complete an extensive supervised program of practice at a health care facility, foodservice organization or community agency and pass a registration exam, and maintain continuing education requirements.

Several dietitians hold graduate degrees and many have certifications in specialized fields, such as sports, pediatric, renal, oncology or gerontological nutrition. Dietitians are also the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.

Dietitians are valuable members of the health care team, working with other health care professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. Close collaboration with physicians and nurses are a given, but multidisciplinary interactions do not end there. A dietitian might work with an occupational therapist or a speech language pathologist to provide nutritionally adequate food and drink options for a patient with a swallowing dysfunction.

In case of a patient with a complex social situation that has implications on their nutritional status – such as a lack of access to food – the dietitian will consult with the social worker to explore solutions. If a patient is on medications with nutritional consequences, the dietitian might work with the pharmacist to address this. For patients with chronic healthcare needs at home, the dietitian may be part of the homecare team. When working as a multidisciplinary team, dietitians and their healthcare colleagues can provide complimentary services and streamlined treatment plans that improve patient care and outcomes.

At Sidra, the dietetics staff are committed to improving the health outcomes and quality of life of our patients through the integration and application of evidence based, culturally sensitive, individualized, and family centered medical nutrition therapy. Sidra dietitians will play an important role in the provision of quality patient care.

As we head towards the opening of Sidra’s Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics department at Sidra, we would like to thank our Child Life and Social Work colleagues for their dedication and hard work towards improving the healthcare experience of our patients and their families.