Life On The Job: Nutritionist
What does a nutritionist do?
The general day-to day job of a nutritionist is to perform diet screening and basic physical screening and then plan meal programmes, supervise food choices and food preparation as well as oversee the serving size of meals according to patients’ needs.
A nutritionist prevents and controls diseases by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending diet habit modifications.
How do I know if being a nutritionist is right for me?
To be a nutritionist, you need to excel in biology and science and graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics or nutrition and community health or food science and nutrition, or equivalent. Those who have an interest in human health and well-being will certainly find a career in nutrition appealing.
Being confident yet sensitive towards others and having patience plus good interpersonal and communication skills are very important as nutritionists work closely with people every day. In a country like Malaysia, the ability to converse in multiple languages certainly helps when communicating with patients of different ethnic backgrounds.
What is the most enjoyable part of the job?
The most enjoyable part of this career is to see yourself making a positive change in a patient’s life, which makes the patient appreciate your knowledge and respect you. During this process, you will build friendships.
Who will employ me?
All health centres
There is an increasing demand for nutritionists to join nutrition support teams in helping to develop and implement medical nutrition therapies for patients. Most government clinics employ nutritionists to provide diet counselling for patients.
The government also employs nutritionists to assess, evaluate, develop and supervise community nutrition programmes especially for the underprivileged in rural areas.
Business and industry
Nutritionists can be found in slimming and beauty centres, sports and fitness centres, pharmaceutical companies, nutritional supplement marketing companies, health food cafés and restaurants as well as health food retailers.
Nutritionists are also required in cafeterias, for healthcare facilities, nursing homes and sometimes schools and prisons to supervise large-scale meal planning.
Nutritionists can also practise privately or be contracted with gyms and healthcare facilities to provide nutrition counselling.
Universities and institutions
Nutritionists can also conduct research and work as academicians.
How much will I earn?
A fresh graduate nutritionist in Malaysia can earn a starting salary of approximately RM2,000 monthly. The ability to write and speak different languages enhances your value.