What to Expect When You Visit a Dietitian
As a health consumer, you have a right to clear, complete information and a right to be involved in all decisions about your health care. You also have a right to refuse or consent to any proposed treatment. The best way to exercise your consumer rights when you visit a dietitian is to be prepared for your visit. How do you prepare?
First, make sure that your Registered Dietitian is qualified to practice in Ontario. Check the Register of Dietitians at www.dietitians.ca. Dietitians are regulated health professionals required by law to clearly identify themselves as a Registered Dietitian when they practice in Ontario. Look for the RD or Registered Dietitian after their name.
Be prepared for your first visit
On your first visit, the dietitian will conduct a nutrition screening or assessment and work with you to develop a nutrition plan of action. She will be better able to gain a full picture of your health condition if you are prepared to share important information about your health and your nutrition concerns. Bring along any medical information that may help.
Be clear about what you want to achieve. Dietitians have the education and skills necessary to translate medical and nutrition information into practical healthy eating plans for healthy eating. They can help with food sensitivities, allergies and nutrition related diseases like diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Ask questions for best results
By law, a dietitian must have your informed consent before starting any treatment plan. Informed consent depends on your understanding of the assessment, treatment plan, available options and the results you can expect from the treatment plan. If you don’t understand the options, ask questions before giving you agree to any plan. Dietitians are trained to listen and to answer all your questions. You are free to bring someone along to help you understand the key points.
At the end of your visit, confirm instructions or any information about your treatment. Go over any written or online information you’ve been given. Be clear about the treatment goals, next steps, or follow-up appointments. Remember that as a health care consumer, you are partnering with your dietitian to achieve the best results possible.
“The College of Dietitians of Ontario works to help dietitians maintain ethical, respectful and professional relationships with their clients,” says Mary Lou Gignac, Registrar & Executive Director of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, “The dietitian-client relationship is based on mutual trust and respect; any act of abuse, is a betrayal of that trust”. As regulated health professionals, dietitians are held accountable to the College for their conduct. If you have any concerns or complaints about the services you have received from a dietitian, you can call the College for help.
How to find a Registered Dietitian
Many Canadians search online for nutrition or diet information. Make sure you search reliable websites and check with a qualified Registered Dietitian that the information you are using is safe for you. You can access the services of a Registered Dietitian by consulting your physician or other primary care provider, by searching online for a “Registered Dietitian” in your area or by going to www.dietitians.ca and clicking on Find a Dietitian.
Free and reliable nutrition information is available through Eat Right Ontario, “Ask a Dietitian”. This service provides a direct link to Registered Dietitians to answer your questions. Call 1-877-510-5102 or visit www.eatrightontario.ca
Although dietitian services are not covered by OHIP, there are many government funded services through Family Health Teams, Community Health Centres, Diabetes Education Programs, Hospitals and Long-Term Care Residences. Many insurance companies also offer benefits for nutrition services by Registered Dietitians.