Thursday, October 17, 2013

Feed your passion for food and cooking while pursuing a career in the healthcare sector

The aging population calls for an increase in clinical nutrition needs. Other social trends involve healthy eating and prominent diseases like obesity, leading to public’s concern with watching their food intake and monitoring their healthy living. There are consultations available for interested folks who want to improve their diet and nutritional intake. Therefore, food and nutrition management is increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives and is expected to host a number of new job openings. Embark on a journey in the healthcare sector with a flair for cooking.

The School of Community and Health Studies at Centennial College holds the longest established two year food and nutrition program in Ontario. Kendra Allen, full-time faculty of the Food and Nutrition Management (1607) program, states that the program is not hospitality-focused but is involved in foodservice operations. She says, “Although our students do not focus on culinary or hospitality, (the Food and Nutrition Management program) does give them an opportunity to learn about large-quantity-cooking, as well as menu planning and recipe development, so they are able to run a good service department.” She also mentioned that students learn the foundations in finance and business with a distinct focus on nutrition. Many graduates work on menu planning and therapeutic diets to ensure patients have optimal healthcare.

The food service program is a mixture of classes and hands-on work, which provides hands-on experience for the undergraduates. Students wear industry professional attire at their on-campus training at Centennial’s modern lab facilities and at their field placements in a real-job setting in the healthcare and food and nutrition sectors. The courses learned includes a medical portion where students study different diseases and relates this with food and nutrition. Students are tasked with creating food and nutrition plans to assist with the clients’ illnesses and as a way of preventative measures to candidates of the diseases.

Graduates can start their career as food and nutrition managers with various occupational titles including the following: Food Service Coordinator, Diet Technician, Cook (nutrition and dietetics), Clinical Nutritionist, Diet and Menu Technician, and Nutrition Coordinator. These healthcare professionals can work at different industries and work settings at educational institutions, government posts, community centres, food service and catering companies, fitness centres, hospitals, research centres, long-term care facilities, and home care. They can expect to be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Develop, administer, and monitor nutrition and food preparation programs
  • Assess, develop, implement, and evaluate weight management programs
  • Monitor and report client’s diet and nutritional data
  • Assist clinical dieticians in providing nutritional care
  • Organize menu selection and enhance diet through menu corrections
  • Calculate client’s energy intake
  • Document client’s tolerance and eating habits, for food and supplements
  • Conduct research and analyze scientific nutritional studies to better prepare food programs
  • Participate in food services taste panels

Many Centennial graduates were hired by industry-leading organizations including the University Health Network, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Toronto East General Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Rivera, Providence Healthcare Centre, Compass, and Aramark. The Food and Nutrition Management program at Centennial College is influenced by industry practice and standards to which it teaches its students about important and relevant knowledge and skills that are required in the workplace.

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