Dietary management programs often focus on work in health care settings. Some programs prepare students to take the Dietary Managers Association exam to receive certification through the National Restaurant Association. Graduates may also be eligible for certification through their state's department of health.
Here are a few common concepts taught in dietary management courses:
- Nutrition data
- Food storage
- Managing food production
- Hiring and supervising
- Food preparation
List of Common Courses
Diet and Nutrition Therapy Course
This introductory course provides an overview of diet and nutritional needs for individuals in health care facilities, correctional facilities and schools. Basic nutrition and food guidelines are discussed, and students learn how to conduct a nutritional assessment to provide recommendations on weight control, supplement use and sources for nutrients and energy. A large portion of this course is dedicated to menu planning and preparation for all types of diets, including vegetarian, low fat, high fiber and high protein. Students also learn about meeting others' social, physiological and psychological needs through a proper diet and preventing nutrition-related disease.
Safety and Sanitation Course
Individuals interested in a career in dietary management must learn all safety regulations prior to working with food. In this course, students learn acceptable ways to serve food, the possibility of foodborne illness and methods for handling crisis situations. Dietary managers also handle most operational aspects of their department and, therefore, must know food storage, equipment sanitation, inspection and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to identify and prevent potential food risks and handle safety hazards.
Food Production and Preparation Course
Food production and preparation is often an extension of the safety and sanitation courses because it touches on similar aspects of food service. Students learn to evaluate the quality of food items, as well as basic techniques for preparing items from every food group. Proper production equipment and food storage are also discussed.
Food Service Management Course
This course focuses on the basic management functions including, planning, organizing and maintaining a dietary department that operates efficiently. Participants also learn how to select and purchase any needed equipment on a budget.
Human Resources Management Course
Although the course in human resources is similar to the management course, it is more focused on departmental employees. Topics discussed include staff development through recruiting and retention, employment laws, supervision and communication. This course is taken toward the end of the program, prior to field experience courses.
Field Experience Course
The second half of dietary management programs typically consists of several field experience courses. Students gain hands-on experience in all of the courses taught in the beginning of the program. Depending on the focus of the course, students may spend a designated number of hours at a health care facility and may be supervised by registered dietitians.