What is a Dietitian?

A dietitian is an expert in nutrition. Dietitians provide treatment, education and support to people requiring nutrition information and advice relating to medical and surgical treatments and management of chronic diseases (such as diabetes and high blood pressure). A dietitian applies scientific knowledge about food and nutrition to individuals and groups to promote optimal health outcomes.

Dietitians must be registered to practice under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act 2003 and abide by a code of ethics. 

The educational prerequisite for registration is a two-year Masters Degree, with entry restricted to those who have successfully completed a relevant science degree majoring in Human Nutrition.

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

 Dietitian – The term dietitian is a protected term. A dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards required by the Dietitians Board and has both an undergraduate science degree in human nutrition and a post-graduate qualification in dietetics. To practise in New Zealand, a dietitian must, by law, be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate. The Dietitians Board protects the health and safety of the New Zealand public under the Health Practitioners Competency Act (HPCA) 2003, by ensuring that every dietitian working in New Zealand is fit to practice and meets standards of professionalism. In New Zealand dietitians are the only nutrition health profession to be regulated by law. Dietitians work in a variety of settings from hospitals, the community, public health, food service, sports, education, research, media and the food industry.  The Dietitians Board regulates the dietetic profession and only those on the Register can call themselves a dietitian and practise as a dietitian. For more information about how to practice legally as a dietitian in New Zealand visit their website: http://www.dietitiansboard.org.nz/ 

Nutritionist – The term nutritionist is not a protected term, there is no specific qualification or statutory legislation that regulates that profession and therefore the title can be used freely by anyone. This could range from someone with a PHD in a specialty area of nutrition to someone with no formal training. The Nutrition Society has a programme for registration of nutritionists where set criteria must be met to achieve registration status.  

 

Nutrition and Dietetics Services Provided by Counties Manukau Health

InpatientsMiddlemore Hospital or Manukau Surgery Centre

What to expect?
As an inpatient at Middlemore Hospital or Manukau Surgery Centre you may be seen by a dietitian. Your medical team or nurse will refer you to a dietitian if they feel you will benefit from a dietitian’s specialised input. A dietitian would assess and recommend a nutritional treatment to meet your needs. This would also include education for you while on the ward and at home.

The dietitians provide services to: 

  • Medical, Orthopaediac and Surgical wards
  • The National Burns Centre
  • Assessment Treatment and Rehabilitation and Older People's Health
  • Paediatrics
  • Community 

 

Outpatients - Manukau SuperClinic

The dietitians at Manukau SuperClinic™ assess and treat clients with nutrition related disorders.

Dietitians provide nutritional support to clients, their family, whanau and caregivers by:

  • explaining the role of food in disease management
  • helping clients to make choices about foods which suit them and their lifestyle.

What to expect?
Your doctor or medical team may refer you to a dietitian.  You may be offered a group education session or a clinic appointment, depending on your medical condition. You are encouraged to invite carers, family or whanau to your group session or clinic appointment with the dietitian. Interpreters are available; please let us know if you require an interpreter.

What Will The Dietitian Do?

  • explain their role and ask for your consent to provide dietetic assessment and education.

Assessment:

  • the dietitian will read your medical notes and check your blood results
  • measure your height and weight or waist circumference
  • ask questions about your meal pattern, food choices and lifestyle. This will allow the dietitian to give you information that will fit in with your life.

Education:

  • work with you and your family/whanau to help you to plan nutrition and lifestyle changes
  • explain any recommendations made and why they are needed
  • provide written information or pictures to take away.

Support:

  • provide follow-up appointments as required
  • reassess your medical and nutrition status, food choices and changes made
  • with your consent, we may refer you to other services as you require (for instance – Diabetes Nurses)
  • talk to you and your family/whanau about other groups and health professionals that can provide ongoing support when you no longer need to be seen by the dietitian.

What Do You Need to Do?
Work together with the dietitian by:

  • telling us as much as you can about the foods you choose and the amounts that you eat and drink
  • asking about things that you don’t understand
  • trying the changes that are suggested by the dietitian
  • telling us about how the changes are going and if you are managing them
  • telling us if you have difficulty understanding the written and/or spoken information.

More Information

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