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Under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA) a health practitioner or practitioner means a person who is, or is deemed to be, registered with an authority as a practitioner of a particular health profession, i.e. a dietitian under the Dietitians Board of New Zealand.

Scope of Practice

From 1 April 2017 the Dietitians Board gazetted Scope of Practice: Dietitian is:

Dietitians are registered health practitioners who evaluate scientific evidence about food and nutrition and translate it into practical strategies. Dietitians work in partnership with individuals, whānau, communities and populations, in states of health and disease, to support optimal health and well-being.

Dietitians use their dietetic knowledge, skills, and judgement in a variety of contexts, which includes promoting and protecting public health, directing and delivering medical nutrition therapy services, and managing food and health systems. They may perform a variety of functions, including policy development, leadership, management, research, education, and communication roles.

Dietitians with a prescribing endorsement are able to prescribe Special Foods and approved nutrition-related medicines.

Dietitians are accountable for ensuring that their practice is consistent with the Dietitians Board’s competency requirements, Code of Ethics and Conduct, and relevant legislation.

Limitations may be put on this scope of practice e.g. being limited to working in a clinical domain of practice and/or being under a practice supervision condition.

Restricted Activities

Certain Activities, which are noted for their ability to cause risk of harm to the public, were scheduled as Restricted Activities by the NZ Government under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (Restricted Activities) Order 2005, (SR 2005/182).

The Activity related to Dietetics is:

Prescribing of enteral or parenteral nutrition where the feed is administered through a tube into the gut or central venous catheter.

Dietetic Practice

Dietitians can be found working anywhere that involves people, food, nutrition, physical activity, health or well-being. Workplaces might include government agencies, local government, publically and/or privately funded organisations, public health providers, health centres, hospitals, rest/care homes, private practices, commercial organisations (e.g. food or pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, services), education providers (kohanga reo/early childhood, schools, polytechnics, universities), research institutes, media, armed forces, correctional facilities, sports institutes, sport/fitness centres, gyms, whare hauora, or people’s homes.

Registered Dietitians in New Zealand may be found using their dietetic skills and knowledge while working (or volunteering):

  • in public health, food service management or clinical settings,
  • as a service manager/advisor or leader working in a healthcare environment,
  • as a dietetic or nutrition educator/lecturer/researcher,
  • as a policy advisor,
  • as a consultant, or as part of a multidisciplinary team, providing dietetic services to individuals or groups in areas such as elite sport/personal training or aged care,
  • in media or communications, and
  • as a nutritionist.

Professional Standards & Competencies for Dietitians

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA) requires the Dietitians Board to ‘set standards of clinical competence, cultural competence, and ethical conduct to be observed by health practitioners of the profession.’ These are generally referred to by Regulatory Authorities as professional standards and competencies.

These standards were reviewed and updated in 2016 and 2017 culminating in the revised Professional Standards & Competencies for Dietitians.

To be eligible to apply for Registration applicants are required to demonstrate achievement of the requirements across the Standards & Competencies.