As a dietician you will know that good nutrition is the key to a healthy life. Some people in our society or in other countries, through poverty or lack of education, are unable to access good food or the right types of food.
In many parts of the world, and indeed in Australia, medical services are stretched, and some organisations, whether they are charities or non-government organisations, simply don’t have the resources to employ the services of professionals full time. Volunteering as a dietician gives you the opportunity to contribute your expertise and knowledge to people who need it most.
Opportunities to Volunteer as a Dietician
To find an organisation that matches or resonates with your values, think about whether you want to help out in Australia or if you would be happy volunteering for an aid organisation that focuses on developing or third world countries.
Most states and territories in Australia have a peak body for volunteering, so go to their respective websites as they have a wealth of information and resources about what you can do.
Check with hospitals who may know of local organisations who may need your services, or you could check with the university where you studied. Conduct internet
research on different charities as they may have volunteer opportunities listed on their website, or simply call and gauge their interest.
As a volunteer dietician, you would most likely work with existing staff to treat patients, work out patients’ nutritional requirements and educate them about food and nutrition issues. You would advise patients on practical ways they could improve their health and adopt healthier eating habits. Of course, it depends on the organisation and what resources they already have in place. Remember that you will need to be adaptable and always consider your safety and security.
The definition of volunteering according to Volunteering Australia, the national peak body working to advance volunteering in the Australian community, is that it is an activity which takes place through not for profit organisations or projects and is undertaken:
- To be of benefit to the community and the volunteer;
- Of the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion;
- For no financial payment; and
- In designated volunteer positions only.
By definition, volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer, so it’s a win-win situation. The United Nations even has an International Volunteer Day, observed on 5 December each year.
Working as a volunteer may also help your future job prospects as it gives you valuable work experience, but remember that many organisations will want and need dieticians with current qualifications and previous experience working as a dietician.Originally published on Feb 25, 2011