With the growing public interest in food and nutrition and its role in preventing and managing chronic diseases and obesity, the demand for dietitians is expected to increase. The federal government projects a labour shortage because of this and the anticipated degree of retirements.
Registered dietitians are health care professionals who are trained to provide advice and counselling about diet, food and nutrition. They use the best available evidence coupled with good judgment about the client’s or communities’ unique values and circumstances to determine guidance and recommendations.
Dietitians help people make healthy food choices, separating fact from fiction and distinguishing healthy eating plans from those that don’t provide optimal nourishment. Dietitians play a major role in health care, industry, government and education. They influence policy development, direct nutrition programs, manage quality food services and conduct nutrition research.
The Vision of the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences is to make outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of individuals and populations through its innovation and leadership in research and advanced education in the areas of nutrition, food and health.
The first step is to earn a Bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from a university program that has been accredited by Dietitians of Canada (DC). These programs include a range of subjects such as:
- basic science (chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology)
- social sciences and communications
- profession-related courses, such as food science lifecycle, disease specific, community nutrition and food service management
The second step is to complete supervised practical training.
Your choice of undergraduate program will determine what route you take in order to become registered to practice.
In addition to a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university program, dietitians must also have the supervised practical experience that a dietetic internship/practicum programs provides.
As part of their training, students apply the academic knowledge they gained in university in practice-based settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, health units and the food industry. All internship programs – whether integrated/stage, post-degree internships or Masters programs – are accredited by Dietitians of Canada.
Types of Internship/Practicum Programs
The internship/practicum programs can be completed either as part of an undergraduate degree program or as a post-degree initiative.
- Integrated Undergraduate Internship/Stage:
Here, the practicum training program is incorporated as part of the undergraduate degree. Some universities provide placements to all students admitted to the dietetics program.
In other programs, the number of positions is limited and students must compete for them. Practicum placements are either organized in rotation blocks throughout the program, or positioned at the end when all academic coursework is complete. These programs are called integrated or stage programs.
- Post Degree Internship:
After completing an accredited undergraduate university program, students have two options to complete an internship program
- Masters/practicum program
In this case, students apply directly to the accredited university program. Masters/internship programs can be thesis or non-thesis based (practical Masters). In both cases, practicum experience is incorporated into the curriculum design, and the university arranges placements that students must complete in addition to the Masters-level coursework.
- Post-degree internship program
Students can apply for internship programs through the Dietitians of Canada annual internship selection-match process
Here, internship programs are sponsored by specific organizations, such as hospitals or other care facilities, and typically last 35 to 40 weeks. Only a limited number of these internship positions exist.
University of Manitoba
The Mission of the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences is to excel in promoting human health and quality of life through generation of advanced knowledge and training of tomorrow’s leaders in nutrition. The sciences of Human Nutrition integrate concepts in metabolism, food and community nutrition, with subject areas ranging from the roles of food and nutrients at the cellular and molecular levels to interactions with behaviours of the human population ultimately leading to disease prevention and management.