At present, online Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (D.C.N.) degree programs require residencies and the occasional on-campus workshop, therefore, most programs are considered hybrid. 100% online programs are practically non-existent due to on-campus and dissertation requirements.
Who hasn’t tried to diet? We look in the mirror and see that our clothes have shrunk in the dryer, or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. Dieting is not easy but to feel our best, good nutrition is necessary for optimum health. Whether we are sick or training for a sporting event, clinical nutritionists are often needed to help us reach our goal.
If you are passionate about your own nutrition and would like to help others in this way, becoming a clinical nutritionist is the career for you. Clinical nutrition is an integral part of the healthcare industry.
What does a Clinical Nutritionist do?
As a clinical nutritionist, you will be responsible for promoting healthy eating habits. In some communities, individuals simply do not know how to prepare healthy foods and are unaware of how their choices affect their bodies. A clinical nutritionist or dietician is trained to easily teach others about healthy nutritional choices to maintain a healthy and disease-free body. You will make nutritional assessments and develop eating plans for each individual client based on their medical history, existing health, lifestyle and health goals.
A nutritionist is also often hired to plan meals for people with specific medical needs, such as diabetes, celiac disease, kidney disease or food allergies. They are also hired to help others achieve specific goals, such as those hoping to lose a few pounds.
How do I earn my Doctor of Clinical Nutrition degree?
You can easily gain an entry-level job in nutrition with your bachelor’s degree, however, if you would like to advance in your field, enrolling in a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition degree program is for you, especially if you would like to do extensive research, teach at the university level, or obtain a consulting or administrative position. Earning your doctorate degree will also increase your earning potential, as well.
Prerequisites for the D.C.N. program include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition or another health-related science.
Areas of study may include the biochemistry of nutrients, kinesiology, eating disorders, human metabolism, nutritional epidemiology, anatomy, microbiology, as well as, statistics, metabolic imbalance and cellular nutrition. You will also concentrate on the compounds found in food and how they affect the human body, nutrition and aging, weight management, along with, pediatric, geriatric, maternity and critical care nutrition.
What kind of salary and career options will I have with my Clinical Nutrition doctorate degree?
Clinical nutritionist jobs can be found in clinics, hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, correctional facilities or in spas, nursing homes and other governmental health agencies. There are many areas of expertise in which a clinical nutritionist can specialize in. For example, you may choose to work as a sports nutritionist, public health nutritionist, weight loss consultant, naturopathic nutritionist, pharmaceutical product representative, or as a holistic consultant which deals in organically grown foods. Clinical nutritionists commonly become registered nurses. Work hours in this field can be very flexible or very demanding, often depending on the patient’s needs.
Today, more and more people have become health conscious. With this trend, additional nutritionists will be needed. The BLS reports that this career has a potential growth rate of 15% between 2016 and 2026. The average salary for nutritionists and dieticians, in May of 2017, was $59,410 annually, although the highest 10% earned upwards of $83,070 per year.
Do I need to have a license to be a Clinical Nutritionist?
Some states do require certification, licensing and registration. You will need to check your state’s requirements for specifics.
What schools offer Doctor of Clinical Nutrition programs?
The following two schools offer the “online” learning format within their Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (D.C.N.) programs, however, please be aware that they are considered hybrid programs due to their on-campus requirements. The Maryland University of Integrative Health is located in Laurel, MD. The D.C.N. program does require a residency. In addition, the University of North Florida, located in Jacksonville, FL, also includes a residency, as well as, on-campus workshops.
As a nutritionist, researcher or as an educator in this field, you must have a genuine interest in helping others. To excel in the field of clinical nutrition, you must be a compassionate and caring person as you will be expected to work closely with those who may be very sick or terminally ill.