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Dietitian - A protected title

Is the title of 'dietitian' protected by law?

Yes, the title ‘dietitian’ is the only food and nutrition title that is protected by law. Only those registered with the statutory regulator, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) can use the title.

Who are they regulated and quality assured by?

The role of the HCPC is to protect the public. It is an independent, UK-wide health regulator. The HCPC keeps a current register of health professionals who meet its standards and takes action if registered health professionals fall below those standards. Registered professionals must keep up-to-date through compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

If an individual is not happy with the treatment they are given, or if they are worried about the behaviour or health of a dietitian, they can approach the HCPC who will investigate and take action.

HCPC Registration

Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standards.

All dietitians are regulated by the HCPC. The HCPC exists to protect the public. They publish a register of dietitians and other health professionals who meet their standards. Only those on the Register can call themselves dietitians.

You can find out details of all dietitians who currently practise in the UK by visiting the HCPC website and checking its register.

What qualifications do dietitians have?

The minimum requirement is a BSc Hons in Dietetics, or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or higher degree in Dietetics. The only route to become a dietitian is through degree level education, which is three to four years long. Additionally, some take a postgraduate Master’s degree in order to become one.

Dietetic courses are structured to include biochemistry, physiology, applied sciences and research methods that underpin nutrition and dietetics. These are complemented by social and behavioural sciences and the theories of communication to support the development of skills required for professional dietetic practice.

All courses require a period of supervised practice often in NHS settings, where an individual must demonstrate clinical and professional competence before being eligible to apply for registration.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is the professional body for Dietitians and is also responsible for designing the curriculum for the profession. Courses must be approved by the HCPC and demonstrate that graduates meet the Standards of Proficiency for Dietetics.

(adapted from the BDA website)

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