Dietetics is a great career
Food is an integral part of daily life, and nutrition is a vital consideration in the treatment and management of issues impacting on peoples’ health and lifestyle. Dietetics provides an opportunity to pass on nutritional knowledge to people from all walks of life and in a variety of settings.
Dietitians engage with people in a number of different environments including:
- Corporate health & wellness divisions
- Professional sports teams/ NZ Academy of Sport
- Government agencies, e.g. Ministry of Health
- Private practice
- Large food companies
- Media, e.g. writing for publications; fronting a television series
- Health promotion
- Nutritional companies
Dietitians in New Zealand believe there is huge satisfaction to be gained from improving the quality of life of people who are suffering or compromised by their lifestyle or health issues.
Become a dietitian
To train as a dietitian, you firstly need to complete an undergraduate degree majoring in human nutrition. The nature of the degree will differ depending on the university you are enrolled at but in most instances will be a BSc, a BCApSc or equivalent.
It is strongly recommended that you study the equivalent of Year 13 Chemistry, Biology, Statistics and English to Year 12. If you haven’t studied science a lot at school, but still have your heart set on nutrition, don’t worry because there are many tutorials and helpful teaching staff that can help you at University.
When planning your undergraduate degree please be careful to include the papers that are pre-requisites for the Postgraduate Masters in Dietetics. All the required papers can be completed at the University of Otago, Massey University or the University of Auckland. It is essential when you enrol that you carefully check the subjects you have chosen to ensure they will lead you on the correct pathway to becoming a dietitian.
Once completing your undergraduate degree, you are then able to apply for a Postgraduate Masters Degree in Dietetics. This can also be obtained through the University of Otago, Massey University (Albany Campus) and the University of Auckland. The Masters Degree in Dietetics involves amongst other things studying Clinical Nutrition, Community and Public Health Dietetics, Applied Dietetics and in some instances Food Service Management. As part of your course you will also gain valuable practical experience working alongside practising dietitians.
How to Register as a Dietitian
Aside from Dietitians NZ there is one other key organisation that provides support to dietitians. The Dietitians Board is appointed by the Minister of Health under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance [HPCA] Act 2003 and is mandated by legislation to protect the health and safety of members of the public.
The Board’s role is to protect the public by putting in place mechanisms which ensure that dietitians are qualified, competent and fit to practise their profession. One of the Board’s prime functions is to ensure that all dietitians wishing to practise their profession in New Zealand (or to be known as a dietitian), must by law, be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate (Section 7 of the HPCA Act). In order to retain their registration, dietitians must also participate in a continuing competency programme.
Registered dietitians pay an annual fee to the Dietitians Board to receive an annual practising certificate (APC). Dietitians who do not hold a current APC are deemed to be practising illegally. To register as a Dietitian please go to: Dietitians Board