University Of Kwazulu Natal Dietetics
University Of Kwazulu Natal Dietetics, Training and research in Dietetics and Human Nutrition is built on the pillars of the Clinical, Community and Food Service arenas, giving it the necessary breadth and coordinated approach to meet the needs of the population that it serves. In addition, this gives graduates a number of options in terms of career trajectories.
Demographics have changed somewhat over the years, although non-white students have been able to enrol in the discipline for many years. The classes are still largely female, however a few male students do take on the challenge and go on to enjoy successful careers as dietitians and nutritionists or researchers and academics.
Dietitians and nutritionists graduating from UKZN have professional qualifications that are accredited with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Roughly 40 students every year make up the graduating class of Dietetics and Human Nutrition students; most students usually go on to complete their postgraduate diploma year. A handful will go on to pursue a Masters of Science in Dietetics or in Human Nutrition, depending on their undergraduate stream, with a select few going on to doctoral studies.
A highlight for the students is the community work they are able to participate in during their postgraduate diploma year, the scope of which is always a surprise to them, say staff members. Graduates are placed in various healthcare facilities and hospitals during their postgraduate diploma year, in addition to attending intensive lectures at the beginning of the year and writing exams. Seeing what an impact they can make in healthcare in South Africa is reportedly an extremely rewarding experience for the completing students, who go on to engage in community service after qualifying as professional dietitians or nutritionists.
Students interacting with learners from Merchiston Preparatory School
Another highlight of the course is the lunches organised by the third-year Bachelor of Science Dietetics students, who are tasked with compiling a menu, in groups, and organising a balanced, cost-effective catered lunch for guests.
This includes the decorating of the basement’s Spring Room to a theme, cooking and waiting tables. These events are greatly anticipated by staff, students’ family and friends and students alike, and could be open to a limited number of interested members of the public on request.
Staff in the discipline work closely with colleagues in a number of disciplines, most especially Food Security and Bioresources Engineering (Professor Tilahun Seyoum shares laboratory space for work on food processing). Their work on nutrients also has application in disciplines like Crop Science and Plant Breeding, with relevance to other agricultural and Health Science disciplines as well.
Their research covers a wide range of topics, from nutritional quality of different foods to eating practices of various groups to obesity to guidelines for HIV, TB and AIDS patients and more.
Dietetics enjoys good relationships with the industry it relates to, receiving support from the HPCSA and the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), as well as companies like Nestlé, , the Valley Trust, Fedics and Unilever, to name a few.