DIETITIAN DEMAND: Desire For Health Fuels Profession

People wanting to make healthier choices at the grocery store or at restaurants are finding they may need help. And it’s fueling demand for one profession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for dietitians will increase by twenty percent in six years. But, something is needed before graduates can get hired.

Lisa Ferin is learning how to help people lead healthier lives. She says, “I started doing a lot of reading and started getting really interested in nutrition.”

She already graduated from Iowa State University. Now, she’s completing a required six month internship. She’ll spend part of the time working with a Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian. Jodi Schweiger says, “She’ll be doing a lot in consultations behind closed doors where we’re meeting with clients to show them how to control maybe their disease state, whether it’s heart health or diabetes or weight.”

She’ll also follow a Registered Dietitian in a school district and one at a hospital or long term care facility. She says, “It’s really great to work with people one on one and be able to help them sort through, you know, these are the things you really need to know, and here is how you can apply it to your life.”

And she’s not alone. The demand for Iowa State University’s Dietetics Program is growing. Jean Anderson with the program says, “We’re so excited because we feel like the community really is interested in being healthy, so this is a way we can help them.”

Eighty ISU graduates are currently placed in internships across the country. Work must be completed before becoming registered and getting a job. But, there’s one problem. Anderson says, “At this time, there are really not enough internship places. We have so many students that need the internship place.”

Anderson says graduates who aren’t able to secure an internship typically go on to work as a nutritionist. But, they would be able to earn more money, if they were able to get an internship and become registered.

Anderson says, “We do find that people who graduate from Iowa State and have the internship when they become Registered Dietitians do get jobs.”

After Ferin is finished with her internship, she’ll be able to work at a grocery store, fitness center, hospital, or even school districts. She says, “I’d like it to be something where I can work with the community and help people work through issues.”

Leaders of the ISU Dietetics Program say they’re always reaching out to potential businesses and organizations to create new partnerships for internships.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports Registered Dietitians make an average of $47,000 nationwide. Anderson says it’s a great career choice for those interested in nutrition and enjoy science.

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