Becoming a dietitian in Ghana
Many of my friends looked at me with surprise when I told them I was a dietetic intern and that I would be a registered dietitian (RD) soon after successfully writing the licensure exams.
The followup question was, did you school in Ghana? I always answered in the affirmative. I have had all my education in Ghana. Hopefully I would do further studies away from home.
If you are interested in a career in nutrition and dietetics ,then this article is for you. If you are not interested, this article might as well be very helpful for your brother , friend or even your course mate who has a first degree in biology ,nutrition, consumer science or any biological science programme.
Frequently Asked Questions ?
a. How do you become a dietitian in Ghana?
b. What is the duration of study of the programme?
c. Which institutions offer this programme?
Well let us start by getting to know the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist.
Difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist
The title “Dietitian ” is regulated globally , meaning not everyone can call themselves one. In some countries ,the title “Nutritionist ” is not regulated , hence anyone can call him or herself a nutritionist. Be reminded that Registered Nutritionist have gone through an accredited nutrition course.
A dietitian is a nutritionist but a nutritionist is not a dietitian
Dietitians counsel people to make plans to meet their nutritional needs. People with illnesses or health conditions or those who are trying to lose weight or meet fitness goals may seek out dietitians for help in modifying a diet to improve their health.
Registered dietitians can work independently or as part of a health care team. They may also work in the food production industry or help create public health policy.
What kind of training is required to become a registered dietitian?
There are only two (2 ) routes that you can take to be a dietitian; It is either a four (4) year Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics ( What I did !) or a two-year Post Graduate MSc. in Nutrition and Dietetics.
While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a dietitian, some people decide to earn a master’s degree instead. This option would appeal to a student who is already an RD but would like advanced training, or someone who has a bachelor’s degree in another area of study and would like to become a registered dietitian.
The minimum educational requirement for becoming a registered dietitian (RD) is a bachelor’s degree.
FYI : You would have to undergo a year-long mandatory dietetic internship after graduating with a BSc. or an MSc in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Prospective RDs must complete an internship after they graduate. Interns are matched to clinical facilities and work under the supervision of experienced professionals for a year. At the completion of their internship, prospective dietitians are required to take the Professional certification examination offered by the Allied Health Professional Council.
RDs maintain their status by completing continuing professional education requirements. This designation indicates to prospective employers that job candidates have met certain qualifications.
How long does it take to become a dietitian?
Becoming a registered dietitian can take five years, including four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and one more year to complete an internship .
NB: On the other hand it can take 3 years , including two years to complete a master’s degree and one year to complete an internship
If you would like to gain the necessary education to become a registered dietitian, I highly recommend that you read further.
Which Universities offer Nutrition and Dietetics programme in Ghana?
Universities that offer a programme in Nutrition and Dietetics
The University of Ghana was the first institution to commence an Mphil and MSc. programme in Nutrition and Dietetics. In 2007 , Legon again commenced a Bachelor of Science Nutrition and Dietetics programme.
In 2012 University of Health and Allied Health Sciences (UHAS) commenced the Bachelor of Science programme in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Knust also offers a post-graduate degree in the same programme.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION
For a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics you must have had a science background in high school .Electives required are Chemistry, Biology ,Elective Mathematics and Physics.
For a post-graduate applicant you must have a bachelor’s degree in a science related programme; Consumer Science, Nutrition, Botany ,Food and Nutrition etc. The programme is an intensive one with coursework and clinical practicum. You must be a full-time student !!!
If you are just interested in broadening your scope and reading on nutrition but not formally taking up a career as a dietitian, you can still read further and share with colleagues who may have the interest.
PROSPECTS AND WORK ENVIRONMENT
How can I find a job as a dietitian ?
Registered dietitians work in a wide variety of workplace settings, including:
1. Public Hospital 6. Private Practice
2. Academia 7. Sport and Fitness Gyms
3. Cancer Care Centres 8. Hotels and Foodservice
4. Retail pharmacies 9. Surgery clinics
5. Public health agencies 10. Non Governmental Organisations
Registered dietitians (RDs) can take many different career paths.
A small percentage of dietitians work independently in Ghana, but most work in hospitals as part of a health care team. Some work in hospitals providing medical nutrition therapy to the sick and injured.
You can seek open positions in these types of settings, and the professional contacts you make through your internship experience may be a good resource for information on job openings.
Though a growing profession in Ghana, RDs are respected globally for playing a large part in helping people make the important nutritional changes that improve their health and quality of life now and in the future.
Featured Image :buzzghana
Registered dietitian and Blogger. Prince is passionate about all aspects of dietetics , from research to private practice to professional development. He loves to connect and share insights about the emerging trends of dietetics practice.
Email : yalleygh[at]dietcareghana[dot]com