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A clinical nutritionist, dietitian and nutritionist walk into an organic cafe, order a green juice, a decaf almond latte and some smashed avo and all get along. If you’re not in the know, it probably sounds like three of the same person walked in together but these people all have very different jobs!
If you’re looking for help with your diet or seeking advice on how to manage an illness naturally, it can be very confusing to know what qualifications someone has and who to go to for accurate advice.
Dieticians are seen as the queens of dietary recommendations in Australia due to their ability to work within hospitals (and the community) and advise on public policy. A dietitian has done 4 years of university (generally a Bachelor or Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics) and can assess your nutritional needs, provide nutritional support and develop nutritional policies. Dietitians are also clinical nutritionists and nutritionists but a clinical nutritionist or nutritionist isn’t always a dietitian, just to keep things confusing! They are also registered with Dietitians Australia and will sometimes include APD (Accredited Practising Dietitian) after their name.
A dietitian can prescribe supplements and recommend dietary modifications for a number of medical conditions, including:
As dietitians are trained to work in hospitals, they follow a ‘western model’ of medical treatment in a similar way to doctors. The Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs) are supported by Dietitians Australia and therefore, registered dietitians will generally follow the AGDs.
Clinical nutritionists or accredited nutritionists are also university qualified, they may have done a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) or the first 3 years of a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics. They are also highly qualified in providing dietary advice and prescribing supplements for a number of medical conditions but are not qualified to work in a hospital. These include:
Clinical nutritionists can also request functional testing such as DUTCH Hormone testing, OATs testing or gut microbiome mapping to provide further insight into the biochemical pathways of the body and the root cause of any health issues.
Depending on the training of the clinical nutritionist, they may be trained in holistic medicine and can look at how all the systems of the body are working together.
Clinical nutritionist are registered with various organisations including Nutrition Society of Australia, Australian Natural Therapies Association (ANTA), Complementary Medicine Practitioners Association Council (CMPAC), Australian National Register of Accredited Natural Therapists (ANRANT) and the International Institute of Complementary Therapists (IICT).
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist… this means there is a large variation in quality and qualifications of nutritionists out there. A certificate IV in nutrition can be done in 6-12 months through TAFE or other registered training organisation, or they may have a different qualification such as a Certification of Nutrition or no qualification at all so it’s really important if you’re working with a nutritionist to ask about their qualifications. They may also call themselves a nutrition coach or a nutrition consultant.
The subjects in a certificate IV in nutrition include:
A nutritionist cannot prescribe supplements or a diet for particular medical conditions, nor can they work in a hospital. They provide general dietary advice.
It depends on your needs and what you’re looking for! If you want someone who can look at your health holistically or need advice with a specific medical condition, then a clinical nutritionist is up your alley. But, if you’re in hospital and need nutritional support, then a dietitian is your go to. And if you just want some general advice, see a nutritionist.
|Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics – Flinders University||Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) – Endeavour College of Natural Health||Certificate IV in Nutrition – VAST|
|Biology||✓||I and II|
|Physiology I, II and III||✓||✓|
|General Chemistry I and II||✓||I|
|Basic principles of human nutrition||✓||✓|
|Food systems and supply||✓|
|Perspectives on Food Consumption||✓|
|Nutrition across the lifespan||✓||✓|
|Nutrition and disease||✓||✓|
|Nutrients Role and Function||✓||✓|
|Nutrition Care Process||✓||✓|
|Communication and nutritional counselling skills||✓||✓|
|Pathophysiology||✓||I, II and III|
|Food service management||✓|
|Research I, II and III||✓||I and II|
|Medicinal food science||✓|
|Clinical nutritional medicine||✓|
|Clinical Placement||170 hours in a hospital|
110 hours in the community
80 hours in food service (total 360 hours)
|380 hours in the community|