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A career in nutrition gains immense relevance today, opening up multiple avenues.

The was little awareness about the field of nutrition in India 30 years ago. Now, however, the field is evolving, making the role of nutritionists or dietitians, significant in the healthcare realm. In the past, not many hospitals had a dietitian in the team, and the career was vague. Over the years, the scenario has changed, and today, many medical colleges offer courses in clinical nutrition.

Currently, it is mandatory for all hospitals to get the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) tag, and to attain this, the team should have qualified doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists and pharmacists. Initially, when the NABH was introduced, the role of dietitian was defined clearly and it became one of the essentials for a complete healthcare team to have qualified dietitians on board.

To build a career

People who pursue clinical nutrition have the opportunity to create their own career and can become experts in the field. Today, it is important for a student to pursue the two-year master’s course apart from the basic degree, combined with internships that give real-time experience. One can acquire expertise if trained under a professional, with significant experience. The upcoming generation should understand that a career in nutrition at the start is not about the money but it is the experience. A complete two-year experience in a multi-speciality hospital, under an experienced dietitian, can add more credit to the qualification.

People who pursue clinical nutrition courses can opt to become dietitians, teachers, researchers and also be a part of nutraceutical companies. Today, preventive health is gaining a lot of attention, and there is high demand for qualified dietitians and nutritionists in fitness centres. It would be good for future dietitians to be taught by teachers who have practical experience as dietitians. Otherwise, they are taught only theory from books. An experienced teacher can give real-time case studies and also update students on the changing trends in the field, thus giving a comprehensive knowledge on the subject.

India vs. other countries

Countries such as Europe, the U.S., and Singapore have a dedicated forum for dietitians where there is a constant upgrade of the trends. India is moving towards higher levels of commitment in the field. The bar can be raised if the continued medical education (CME) credit system is included for dietitians.

A medical practitioner requires skills such as time management, accountability to self and others, effective communication, and organisational skills. The term success can mean different things to different people, but personally, being excited and passionate about what I do is how I define success. By paying attention to what excites a person in nutrition and health, and also serving the clients whom we want to help, one can feel fulfilled.

The writer is Vice President (Dietetics) and Group Chief Dietitian for the Apollo Hospitals Group.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 9:57:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/food-matters/article23654531.ece

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