Dietitians

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About dietitians

Dietitians are regulated health professionals who plan, implement and manage nutrition and food service programs that are directed at encouraging healthy nutrition outcomes and the prevention of nutritional disorders. Dietitians provide treatment of nutrition-related diseases and conditions and work to ensure high-quality food service operations in a variety of settings.

Dietitians work in educational institutions, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public and community health services, private practice, government and industry.

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of dietitians in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, dietitians are regulated in all 10 provinces. They are not regulated in the territories (as of 2015).

Practice criteria

To practise as a dietitian in Canada, an individual must obtain a licence from one of the dietetic regulatory authorities in Canada. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.

Common requirementsi

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from a university program that has been accredited by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice
  • Complete a program of supervised practical experience accredited by Dietitians of Canada, such as post-degree internships, integrated/stage/coordinated undergraduate programs or combined master’s practicum programs
  • Pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (applicable in most provinces)
  • Register with a provincial regulatory body

Scope of practice

Dietitians are highly qualified professionals educated in science, management, human development and health of populations. As trusted professionals, dietitians fill many roles, depending on where they work.ii

The scope of practice for dietitians is articulated in provincial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of roles and responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice. Some of these roles include

  • Nutrition specialists who counsel and support clients
  • Policy-makers who advise government at all levels on population-wide strategies to improve the health of Canadians
  • Leaders in all aspects of food systems, including safety and availability
  • Researchers who discover new and better ways to enhance patient care, promote health and prevent nutrition-related illnesses
  • Educators who prepare future dietitians and other health care professionals for practice

i. Dietitians of Canada. Become a dietitian: Education. Accessed April 26, 2016.
ii. Dietitians of Canada. What does a dietitian do?. Accessed March 31, 2016.