Dietetic assistants work with dietitians to help people with their diet and nutrition. They show people how to use feeding tubes or advise on food choices.
This page has information on the role of the dietetic assistant, including entry requirements and skills needed.
Dietetic assistants work alongside registered dietitians. Dietitians advise on food and nutrition as well as assessing, diagnosing and treating dietary and nutritional problems. They teach and inform the public and health professionals about diet and nutrition.
In hospitals dietetic assistants may:
- help patients choose from the hospital menu
- order supplies for the department
- monitor a patient’s food
- input data on patients’ records
- show patients how to use feeding tubes and pumps
- weigh patients
- explain a patient’s diet and nutrition plan
Dietetic assistants work with individuals and communities. They work with both healthy and sick people. A dietetic assistant could, for example, work with people who:
- have digestive problems
- want to lose weight
- have a condition which affects their ability to eat, such as cancer
- need to put on weight after an illness
- are HIV
- have an eating disorder
- have an allergy
Dietetic assistants work in hospitals, clinics and in the community. They may visit patients in their homes or in residential or care homes if patients cannot travel. Dietetic assistants may visit schools, nurseries and other community settings to talk to individuals and groups about diet and nutrition. As well as working closely with dietitians, dietetic assistants work with other healthcare professionals including nurses. They have a lot of contact with patients.
There are no set entry requirements for dietetic assistants. Employers expect good numeracy and literacy and some experience or qualifications in health or social care. Employers may ask for GCSEs in English and maths. Science may also be useful. Employers may ask for an NVQ, BTEC or equivalent qualification in health and social care or healthcare.
Employers often ask for relevant work experience. Even where this is not specified, it would be an advantage if you have worked in health or social care, either in paid employment or voluntary work.
Skills and personal characteristics needed
To be a dietetic assistant, you'll need
- an interest in science and food
- an interest in people and their lifestyles
- a positive and motivating attitude
- an understanding approach
You'll also need
- an understanding of science
- be able to explain complex things simply
- organisation skills
- communication skills
Training and development
You will receive appropriate training in order to do the job. This includes an introduction to the department, how to use the equipment and the procedures to follow. You may be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as:
- the CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
- the CACHE level 2 or 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support Some dietetic assistants join the British Dietetic Association (BDA) as associate members.
The BDA runs courses, conferences and seminars where dietetic assistants can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Most dietetic assistants in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They may work some evenings or weekends. They will usually start on bands 2-4 of the Agenda for Change pay scales.
- Where the role could lead Expand / Collapse
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
Most NHS trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations on NHS Choices. If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. Find out more about NHS values.
- Further information Expand / Collapse