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Dieticis vs. Nursing - Is RD as bad as people make it sound?

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How do they differ in terms of the following aspects:

- capacity to progress in career

-salary

- work life balance

I've been thinking of becoming a dietician but in the past friends have been dissuading me from being one because apparently they don't contribute much to hospital healthcare team, and there is no progress in careers, not enough jobs..  but I also heard that they make $50/hour ( which is more than nurse's salary per hour). 

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14 hours ago, Egg_McMuffin said:

I posted about the pros and cons of being an RD a while ago and pretty much addressed your questions. Feel free to take a look at my post history. I can answer any other questions you have.

Is the salary actually $50/hour? Are they able to work 8 hours a day or do they not have enough clients/customers?

The one person that I know has been working as a dietician for few years now, and she is currently getting paid $50/hour, but she usually does not work full-time because she does not have enough clients.

 

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Dietetics can be a very satisfying and rewarding career. The one downside is the lack of advancement unless you become a clinical practice leader or want to go into management. That said, when I was working as a dietitian (before I returned to university to complete a PhD), I was working full-time in primary care. I’ve never worked in a hospital or in private practice, but worked in primary care, in Community Health Centres and Family Health Teams. My salary reflected my education (I had a master’s degree) and so I was at the top of the pay scale for primary care dietitians. 

As for the availability of jobs, it all depends on where you are and what kind of practice you have. I see plenty of job postings for dietitians in my area of the country, but granted a lot of them are for maternity leave replacements (a good way to get started/get your foot in the door) or for Community Health Centres (where you have to really enjoy the type of clients that CHCs typically serve or you will get burned out and/or not do a very good job). A quick search of dietitian jobs in Ontario brings up 337 dietitian positions currently advertised. That’s just in Ontario.

Private practice dietitians certainly earn $50/hr or more, but they have to be good at business and marketing. Clinical dietitians in the hospital often have to start out as casual, progress to part-time, and then to full-time once they get to know you and an opening is available. Most dietitians I know who work in hospitals make between $35-40/hr. Some, however, make more, up to $75/hr. There’s currently a job posting for a dietitian in Toronto where the hourly rate is stated as $65-72/hr. Dietitians who work in primary care can make anywhere from $60,000 - $80,000 per year working full-time, depending on their qualifications (i.e. do they have a master’s? certified diabetes educator? Craving Change? Additional certifications?)

In addition to hospitals, private practice, or primary care, there are dietitians working in Long Term Care, Home Care, Food service, government (federal or provincial), public health, policy, the food industry, marketing, academia, research, grocery stores, non-profits, charities, etc. There’s a sports dietitian who works with the Raptors and there’s currently a photo of her on Twitter where she’s in the locker room kissing the NBA trophy.  A lot of dietitians who completed the same master’s program that I did are working either in public health units or in government positions. In government, there is much more opportunity for upward mobility/advancement as you advance through your career.

I loved working as a dietitian in primary care: I was able to counsel clients and help them make changes that improved their health. I was able to provide nutrition education to groups on a wide variety of nutrition-related topics. I taught cooking classes that helped people learn how to use a variety of produce and allowed them to develop or improve their cooking skills. I did a lot of outreach, speaking to local community groups and organizations. I really, really enjoyed my work and I was happy to go to work everyday. 

However, I always knew that I wanted to complete a PhD (I love research and teaching), so after working for a few years I went back to university to pursue a PhD. My work experience informed my research interests, as I saw the gaps that were there in primary care dietetics. 

Nursing can be a very rewarding career as well, but it would not have been the right choice for me. It really comes down to your interests and what type of work you enjoy doing or can see yourself doing. 

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