The career in this instance is health science. Health science as a career involves the application of science to the provision of health services and incorporates areas such as nutrition, medicine, nursing, among other relevant health topics. The choice of career in this regard is public health nutritionist. The basic educational threshold for a career in nutrition is a bachelor’s degree. One can comfortably be employed and begin practicing as a health nutritionist. However, the career provides for further studies, which could see one enroll for a Masters in nutrition or Masters in Public Health majoring in nutrition.
As much as food and nutrition have been studied since time immemorial, modern-day nutritional science has been for just a short while. It came into being after the isolation and subsequent definition of the first vitamin in 1926. This discovery propelled the discoveries that focused on nutrient deficiency in humans. The periods between the 1950s and 1970s paid attention to the relationship between fats and sugar and the protein gap. In particular, the aspect of nutrition paid attention to calorie malnutrition and deficiencies arising from lack of vitamins. From 1990 to the present, nutrition as a career has gone a notch higher, with the introduction of aspects such as randomized clinical trials and genetic consortiums being the latest addition (Hayes, 2018).
A passion largely informed my choice for this career to offer humanity help by providing the right advice on the correct nutritional practices. Further, my interest is to understand better the nutritional composition of the various foods consumed by humanity today.
Nutrition involves working with patients who have identified specific objectives they would like to attain at a given period or those struggling with health complications arising from nutrition-related issues such as obesity or cancer. The job involves researching and coming up with a dietary plan and timetable for such patients. Nutritionists can also provide counseling services to their patients.
Some of the key duties and tasks associated with this job are reviewing and evaluating the nutritional needs of a client, informing the public on issues nutrition, coming up with a clinical nutrition treatment plan for the patient, conducting research on the possible implications of nutrition on health issues and fitness as well as engaging in consultations with other health practitioners on nutritional management for patients and clients.
The employment trends in this field are very promising, with the job outlook for the period between 2020 and 2030 projected at 11% faster than the average. The employment change within the period described above is 7,800. In 2020 alone, a total of 73,200 jobs arose in this industry, with this expected to rise to 80,800 by 2030, according to the statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Eearly, 2018). The Bureau further suggests that about 5,900 opportunities are projected annually.
A public health nutritionist can equally serve in international aid workers, food technologists, community education officers, animal nutritionists, medical sales representatives, naturopaths, health improvement practitioners, and nutritional therapists (Shrimpton, 2018). He may also work as a chef, catering manager, dietitian, health service manager, personal trainer, product development scientist, or herbalist.
The working conditions here involve writing memos and letters, working together with the healthcare team, face-to-face interaction with people, scheduling appointments; the jobs are mostly done indoors. The job is characterized by exposure to infections and, as such, involves wearing protective gear like face masks and surgical gloves. The job does not demand frequent consultations of the seniors, although it has very strict deadlines.
Public Health nutritionists are entitled to an annual wage of $63,090 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics records. This was, however, as per the records of May 2020. This amount is paid as salary and not hourly wages. Going by these figures, one may make an annual $757,080. In certain instances, nutritionists can be paid bonuses.
The practice of public health nutrition requires certification. While most states vouch for licenses, others advocate for a state registration for the practitioners. Employers will typically vouch for certifications from Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS), Registered Dietitians (RD), our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN). However, being a holder of a bachelor’s or an advanced degree in nutrition-related areas could still suffice (Kohlmeier, 2015)
Some of the key professional bodies tied to this industry include the American Society for Nutrition, the Association of Nutrition, the International Food Information Council, and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
For someone who is a holder of a nutritionist certificate attained as a result of an online course that took one year will be required to undergo a certificate of completion in clinical nutrition, which takes about 56 hours and is done online. The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board awards this certificate.
The greatest employers for public health nutritionists include international charity organizations, government agencies, sports and leisure companies’ non-profit organizations, local authorities, and multinational food manufacturers.
This paper sought to understand public health nutrition, specifically the area as a career. It paid attention to, among other areas, the historical background of the career and the job descriptions. It also addressed the employment trends and the professional requirements. The choice of this career was informed by the need to help people overcome food-related complications and make wiser dietary choices.
Early, K. B., & Stanley, K. (2018). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: the role of medical nutrition therapy and registered dietitian nutritionists in preventing and treating prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(2), 343-353.
Hayes, D., Contento, I. R., & Weekly, C. (2018). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior, and School Nutrition Association: comprehensive nutrition programs and services in schools. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(5), 913-919.
Kohlmeier, M., Nowson, C. A., DiMaria-Ghalili, R. A., & Ray, S. (2015). Nutrition education for the health care professions.
Shrimpton, R., & Blaney, S. (2018). The issue of nutrition training in health professions. Public health nutrition, 21(13), 2526-2527.
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