Dietetic Support Workers and Assistant Practitioners

Dietetic Support Worker (DSW)

A Dietetic Support Worker has an important role to play within the dietetic workforce. Support workers usually work under the close supervision of a dietitian in either a community or hospital setting. A dietetic support worker working in a hospital may, for example, be involved in assisting patients requiring special diets to choose from the hospital menu, collecting information regarding patients' intake and weight and liaising with the dietitian regarding patients' progress. Within a community setting, dietetic support workers may work with the dietitian to assess the food and health needs of local residents and assist in enabling people to eat a healthier diet to prevent disease. Further information on the role can be found on the NHS Careers Website. 

Applying for roles

Support workers usually start their career with little formal training or experience. You are required to have a good standard of English and Maths with excellent communication skills and qualifications could include relevant GCSEs or National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). It is also beneficial to have some experience working in a patient, community or care environment, so for example, in a care home, school or voluntary organisation, catering or in a hospital setting; depending on the position. The interest in these job roles is usually strong and therefore very competitive. We would advise to look at job adverts to get an idea of the exact experience and skills required. Dietetic support worker roles are advertised on NHS Jobs.

Career prospects

Support workers often undertake formal on-the-job training working towards qualifications such as an S/NVQ and may wish to explore working at the next level and undertake the role of assistant practitioner.

There is no direct route for qualifying as a dietitian if you are working as a dietetic support worker or assistant practitioner and you will be required to undertake a degree programme if your career aspiration is to work as a dietitian.

Assistant practitioner - dietetics

Assistant practitioners deliver elements of delegated dietetic care. They are usually educated to Foundation Degree level or equivalent and normally work at a level above dietetic support workers. However, each role varies depending on the post and also the title used to describe posts varies. Further information on the role can be found on the NHS Careers website and roles are advertised on NHS jobs.