Becoming a pediatric nutritionist is not an easy road but the end result is a career that is quite fulfilling. To be a pediatric nutritionist, one needs to first be passionate about two things, nutrition and children. Kids need plenty of attention and since they are still growing, knowing their dietary needs is very important. A nutritionist is a licensed professional who assists with the dietary needs of both children and adults. They provide consultations regarding meal plans and help people maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle in general.
To begin a career in this amazing field, the first thing that you would have to do is obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Pediatric dietetics. You should also pursue certification in early childhood development while getting the Bachelor’s. Please note that the Bachelor’s degree will get you started on your career path, one must also get their Master’s degree eventually. Important classes to take are as follows:
- Nutrition – This is the general subject but there are several topics within this that may interest you and taking a variety will make you a more balanced nutritionist.
- Foreign Language – You will be communicating with people of many different cultures and picking up a foreign language or two will also make for a well-rounded nutritionist.
- Life Sciences – There is a variety of course to take within this subject as well.
- Early Childhood Nutrition and Development
- Psychology – Keeping the mind as well as the body healthy. This is not a mandatory class, only an elective to ponder about depending on your interest. Child psychology is especially important, since you will be interacting with parents and children of different backgrounds and cultures.
Next you should find an internship program that will allow you to obtain the necessary amount of hours of practicum experience. The amount of hours you get can determine whether you are eligible for a supervisory role, if this is your preference or something worth looking into further down the career path. Supervisors must have a minimum of 3 full-time years of clinical experience. Fulfilling these requirements will allow you to take the next step in your journey which is taking the registration exam. The five part exam consists of the following subjects:
- Food service management
- Counseling and communication
- Nutrition care
- Food service systems
- Food and nutrition
The licenses you need depend on the state that you live in. Once you take your exams, the next step is to apply to get the license. Now that technology is much more advanced and the internet is being used for just about anything, the application process is much easier. You apply with your state’s department website and then keep track of via the web. There may be fees involved with this process as well. Once the application is accepted you have to begin practicing. Try to find a job in a hospital or a clinic and maintain your focus on pediatrics. Once you complete the 2000 hour requirement, you can focus on becoming board certified. You can receive specialty certification for the pediatric field. There are exams that have to be taken, consisting of clinical problem simulation.
Once you complete all of these steps and are a licensed practitioner, it is very important to continue to study in order to maintain your license. Those are the steps that you will have to take in order to become a pediatric nutritionist. Some good resources are found here. A child’s diet and all around well-being is very important. As a nutritionist to kids, parents are placing their trust in you to make sure that their child is getting the best possible care.