What Dieticians do

Dieticians play an important role with maintenance and improvement of health through good nutrition. Their work requires knowledge of food, nutrients, eating habits and their involvement with the development and treatment of diseases. Their field of expertise involves the following areas:

Clinical Nutrition
This involves planning and implementing nutritional care plans, for individuals and groups, as part of the treatment of specific diseases. Feeding ranges from oral intake to tube feedings or intravenous feeding where required.

Community Nutrition
Developing and implementing nutrition education programs for specific groups in the community to prevent diseases associated with unhealthy lifestyles e.g. diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension and malnutrition

Food Service Administration
Dieticians ensure that patients in hospitals or institutions receive quality food that complies with all their specific nutritional requirements.

The Work Environment

The public sector
Clinics, hospitals and community health centers

The private sector
Private practice, hospitals and companies e.g. pharmaceutical industries and food service companies

Research institutions
Food industries, universities, Medical Research Council and CSIR

At Steve Biko Academic Hospital

Dieticians play an active and important role as part of the multi-disciplinary team in ensuring patients nutritional needs are met and maintained to ensure optimal nutritional status. At Steve Biko Academic Hospital the dieticians deliver their services in the following disciplines:

In-patients (ICU’s and wards)

  • Pediatric, Neonatal and Maternity wards
  • Surgical and Neuro-surgical wards
  • Internal Medicine e.g. cancer, cardiology, nephrology etc.
  • Ear-nose-and throat (ENT)
  • Orthopedics


Dietary counseling is conducted in the following clinics: Diabetic, Neuro Developmental Intervention, Cystic Fibrosis, High Risk Baby, Nephrology, Encopresis and general outpatient clinics.

The role of the dietician in the multi-disciplinary team

The dietician attends medical ward rounds on a daily basis with other members of the medical team where patient treatment and progress are discussed.

  • The multi-disciplinary team attends meetings to discuss patient care
  • The dietician gives valuable input in terms of nutritional care of the patient
  • The dietician plays a role in educating fellow team members / colleagues concerning current nutritional trends and developments through lectures and workshops
  • The dietician is also consulted by fellow team members to educate patients on regarding their dietary needs on discharge thus ensuring maintenance of optimal nutritional status

Medical School interaction

The dieticians are involved with the training of dietetic students of the University of Pretoria. Pre-graduate students are trained yearly at hospital level. Students from Belgium visit the department for supervisory guidance