Both professions advise people about nutrition. Because the field of nutrition in unregulated in Australia, anyone who has done a shorter course can in theory call themselves a nutritionist or a dietitian.
However, there are also nutritionists and dietitians who are well qualified and are members of professional organisations, which abide to industry standards and codes of practice.
It is important to check whether the practitioner you are considering has the advanced diploma or bachelor qualifications and is a member of a professional organisation.
The main difference between dietitians and nutritionists is in the underlying philosophy and mode of work.
Dietitians have an in depth knowledge about human metabolism, are very meticulous in their approach and their main focus is on a diagnosed condition. This is the mainstream medicine approach. Dietitians can work with anyone, but this approach is especially suitable for medically sensitive patients, in clinics or hospitals.
Nutritionists, on the other hand, see the patient as a whole person - they look at interplay of all the body systems, interactions between the mind, body and the environment and therefore their treatment includes more modalities, not only the diet and supplements. Their strength is in preventative medicine - you deal with your problems before you are out of action and when you can still return to full health.
Tertiary qualified dietitians and nutritionists can both offer private health funds rebates, but only registered dietitians and registered nutritionists who provide Enhanced Primary Care and GP Management Plans provide Medicare rebates for their patients. I am not one of them.
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