What is a Dietitian / clinical Nutritionist?

Dietitians (also known as clinical dietitians or clinical nutritionists) have a scientific and medical background which enables them to formulate specific individualised nutritional treatments plans for disease state management.

To date, the only way to train as a professional dietitian in Ireland is a 4.5 years honours degree course in Human Nutrition & Dietetics, a course which is run jointly between the department of Clinic Medicine in Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences (at St James’s Hospital) & The Dublin Institute of Technology.

The majority of dietitians in Ireland work in public & private hospitals designing therapeutic diets for patients to improve/treat their medical condition. Specialist areas of work include Diabetes, Renal (kidney), Cardiology (heart), Paediatrics (infants & children), Surgery, Intensive Care, Nutrition Support (including Tube feeding & intravenous feeding regimes for critically ill patients), HIV/AIDS, Burns, Mental Health (including Eating Disorders), Oncology (cancer) and Gastroenterology (including Ulcerative Colitis, Coeliac Condition, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis & Crohns Disease)…. to mention just a few areas where a dietitians expertise is vital. Hospital-based dietitians are key members of the patient’s team of healthcare professionals.

Many dietitians also work in the community, more so in recent years, as Primary Care strategies have been implemented for the purposes of prevention of, or early intervention programmes for a wide range of health issues – such as Health promotion initiatives, Healthy Eating policies in schools, health education strategies in the workplace, Cardiac rehabilitation, Obesity treatment programmes, Diabetes educations programmes & research.

Qualified dietitians also work in various of industry – such as new product innovation, nutrition advisor, expert advisors to Health Insurance Companies, sales & marketing of clinical nutrition products to hospitals.

Many dietitians work fulltime in research (National & EU research projects), lecturing posts, and also in state, semi-state bodies & regulatory authorities (such as The Food Safety Authority of Ireland) and Workplace Wellbeing Campaigns & Innovation of Obesity treatment programmes (The Nutrition and Health Foundation)

A number of dietitians in Ireland have also trained to be accredited sports nutritionists. Sports Nutrition is the key to peak performance. Athletes and coaches are more aware today than ever before of the importance and benefits of good nutrition in relation to both health and sports performance. It has been well established that what a sportsperson eats can affect his/her performance and general health, and directly affects the sportsperson’s ability to train, recover from training, and to compete. It may be the difference between winning and losing!

Freelance nutrition consultancy is a growing area where qualified dietitians provide a range of innovative business services to food industry, pharmaceutical industry, health insurance companies, health promotion agencies, occupational health organisations, educational establishments, catering & retails sector, PR firms & other groups of health professionals.

A small group of INDI members are self employed & run their own business. They provide Private dietetic clinics, Freelance corporate nutrition consultancy services, and in some case both! For a list of self-employed freelance consultant dietitians/clinical nutritionists in Ireland, please check out the SEDI section of this website

How to become a dietitian in Ireland


What is the difference between a qualified dietitian/clinical nutritionist & a nutritional therapist? Here’s what the British Dietetic Association has to say:

“British Dietetic Association Urges Awareness of the difference Between Dietitians and Nutritional Therapists (January 2012)”

Nutritional therapists: Gambling with your health?

Which? magazine rates six consultations as ‘dangerous fails’ (January 2012)