Returning to Practice

Dietitians, for various reasons, often take breaks in their careers and there are some, having graduated, that do not take employment in their profession. This page will provide you with information if you are thinking about returning to the dietetics profession.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is the regulatory body for dietitians in the UK and registration with the HCPC is mandatory if you are practising as a dietitian in the UK.

If you have been out of practice for more than two years and you were previously registered as a dietitian in the UK or have undertaken your dietetic qualification in the UK you are required by HCPC to undertake a period of updating your skills and knowledge before you can become re-registered with the HCPC.

The following updating is required, depending on the length of time you have been out of practice:

0-2 years - no requirements

2-5 years - 30 days of updating your skills and knowledge

5 years or over - 60 days of updating your skills and knowledge

The updating of your knowledge and skills can be made up of any combination of supervised practice, formal study or private study. The HCPC requires that any private study makes up no more than a maximum of half of your period. The period of updating should be completed within the 12 months before you apply for registration.

Once you have completed your period of updating you will be required to complete HCPC forms describing the updating that you have completed. You will also need to ensure that you meet the HCPC standards which include the HCPC standards of proficiency, HCPC standards for continuing professional development and HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics, which require that you practice within your scope of practice.

For further information regarding the HCPC requirements and how to apply for re-admission to the register please visit the HCPC website.

We strongly recommend that you contact the HCPC to discuss your circumstances and intention to re-register before you embark on any updating.

Advice for returners

Join the BDA

We would strongly recommend that you join the BDA if you are planning to return to practice.  We have a vast number of resources available to members that will help you for your period of updating.

These include Continuing Professional Development tools and resources, opportunities to network with practising dietitians through Specialist Groups and Branches, professional and education advice from the experts in the BDA office, practice and professional guidance documents, information on key policies affecting dietitians, copies and on-line access to Dietetics Today and the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Trade Union cover and professional indemnity insurance.  It also provides access to the Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN)database.

For those living/working in England

Health Education England (HEE) have rolled out a scheme across England to support AHPs to return to the HCPC register and back into practice. Dietitians have already returned and you can too.

It is recognised that those that have left the register have a wealth of skills and experience that they can bring back to practice. For example, on average a returner has 9 years clinical experience and has worked to band 6 level. The scheme provides not just support to the returner but also to managers and departments to encourage them to welcome retuners and provide placements and CPD opportunities. The HEE scheme provides financial support to both the returner and departments offering a placement.

It is our understanding that the scheme is open until sometime in 2019. We encourage all those returning to practice to register interest on the HEE website and complete the form.

Supervised Practice

We advise all returners to gain some supervised practice before they return to practice, alongside some formal and private study. Firstly contact your local dietetic department and speak to the dietetic manager to make a request. Or alternatively get in touch with any of your ex-employers that are local to you.  You may need to contact a number of departments as some may not be able to take you on due to other demands.

If you are working in a department, even unpaid, whilst updating your skills and knowledge prior to getting back on the HCPC register, we suggest that you might ask to have an ‘honorary contract’, which would make your position as a supernumerary member of staff clear.

An honorary contract, or a letter to you from the supervisor/manager, should make your situation clear and define what you can and cannot do. There are procedures to be followed that protect you, the hospital and, most importantly, the patient. Most health organisations should have an honorary contract and may also require you to prove your identity and have a recent CRB check.


In Scotland and Northern Ireland there is currently no specific funding available for returners to update their skills and knowledge. The BDA do not provide funding for members returning to practice.  If you are a resident in Wales you may apply for funding through the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH). Please note funding available in England via Health Education England can be used for BDA CED courses.