How do I become a dietitian? (UK)

I wrote a post in June 2013 about how to become a dietitian just before I qualified. I am now coming up to being registered for five years, and things have changed a bit! This post is an updated version to help those who are considering this rewarding career.

The main change is that the courses are unfortunately no longer funded by an NHS bursary, since 1 August 2017. Therefore all tuition fees need to be paid by the individual, and likely a student loan will be needed too. This is a shame, as some people will no longer be able to pursue this career.

All courses are 3 or 4 years, the 3 year courses put all of the placements within the holiday time (there are usually 3 – one 4 week and two 12 week placements), which can be full on, compared to the 4 year course which includes a separate placement year.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) provides a nice run down of the undergrad and postgrad courses in the UK here. Note, these are the only places to study to qualify as a dietitian in the UK.

An application to a university usually means writing a personal statement, tailored to the course you wish to study. Dietetic courses also really like you to have some prior work experience in the field, it is tricky to be able to get this as there can be obvious problems with patient confidentiality. However doing voluntary work, even if it is just some office work for a dietetic department would look great. Plus it means you get to chat to the dietitians about their job! Some people I know have worked as a dietetic assistant beforehand to get some experience. Some departments also run student days or student talks, which include dietitians talking about their roles and a bit of an introduction to the hospital role – enquire at your local hospital for details of these.

Before your first university placement, you will be required to undertake occupational health checks, and perhaps some additional or top up vaccinations, and a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Successful completion of the degree provides eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). This is a legal requirement, as the term ‘dietitian’ is a protected term. Then you can go ahead and apply for your first job!

Some useful websites on this subject are:

Good luck!


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