Clinical nutrition is the practice of analyzing whether a person is consuming an adequate amount of nutrients for good health. A clinical nutritionist is concerned about how the body processes, stores, and discards nutrients from food, along with how what you eat affects your overall well-being. Professionals in this field assess your nutritional needs based on your medical and family history, lifestyle, and laboratory tests to make recommendations about your diet and your individual nutritional needs. A clinical nutritionist can advise you on dietary changes that can help prevent diseases.
The primary function of a clinical dietitian is to design nutrition programs to improve or maintain patients' health. These programs may be short-term, for example, to ensure that adequate nutrition is given to the victim of an accident until complete healing has occurred. Or they may be long-term for patients with diabetes, kidney disease, or diseases of old age that affect proper nutrition. Programs designed can be preventive, for heart disease or obesity, or therapeutic to help a patient with heart disease maintain a baseline health and nutrition status.
A clinical nutritionist consults with doctors, caregivers and patients to develop personalized diet and exercise plans. He or she educates patients on the importance of a healthy diet and how their particular medical conditions require them to comply with very specific nutritional guidelines. In addition, a professional can create a shopping list and explain cooking instructions to ensure patients eat the right meals. Most clinical nutritionists are employees of hospitals and assisted living centers, but some professionals operate their own consultation centers.
Clinical nutrition involves studying what nutrients are needed for the body to function and how what you eat affects your health. At Applied, clinical nutrition can be completed in as little as two years and fully online when completed at Northeast College of Health Sciences. To become a clinical nutritionist, you will generally need to have earned the Certified Nutrition Specialty (CNS) credential, which involves an exam and 1000 hours of supervised practice experience. The main industries that employ clinical nutritionists include physicians in private practice, the food and supplement industry, research centers, government agencies and outpatient clinics.
In addition, they must complete a 56-hour online clinical nutrition training program offered through the board. You can also open your own clinic and provide nutrition advice and analysis to patients of any age and health status. Clinical nutritionists analyze a person's diet, along with medical history, to determine how their nutritional intake can affect their health, prevent diseases, or mitigate the symptoms of a chronic illness. However, those who want to work in a clinical capacity, including clinical nutritionists, must obtain certification as a CNS.
Future nutritionists who want to work in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or outpatient clinic, should consider pursuing their master's degree and obtaining their CNS license. In addition, stakeholders should gain hands-on clinical experience by completing an internship after completing the nutrition degree.