Food For Thought: Careers in the Medical Field

Maybe you're a seasoned cook who feeds your family healthy, delicious meals on a daily basis. Perhaps you're a chef who wins rave reviews for your restaurant cuisine. Maybe you should seek a career in the medical field.

You're probably wondering at this point how one's culinary talent could be applied to the healthcare profession. The fact is, though, that a person can't maintain a healthy lifestyle without a nutritious diet. That is why people with a flair for food have a definite place in the healing arts.

Hospitals and large clinics, for instance, always have a need for cooks (also known as Dietetic Technicians in the medical field) to prepare meals for patients, staff and visitors. They work in hospital cafeterias, fixing food both for fellow staff members, and for friends and family members visiting patients. And, like any food service worker, these culinary professionals face all the stresses and responsibilities associated with preparing large quantities of food for a sizable number of people.

In the hospital environment, Dietetic Technicians must toil in hot conditions and produce a delicious diversity of meals on a fast-paced, ongoing schedule; from fortifying breakfasts like eggs and whole wheat pancakes, to hearty lunches such as club sandwiches, soups, salads and vegetable casseroles, to dinners that could range from turkey and dressing to steak and mashed potatoes. And, while healthful eating is promoted and encouraged in hospital cafeterias, generous helpings of puddings, cakes, pies and snack foods also are prepared and sold in hospital cafeterias.

Of course, when preparing patient meals in the hospital, Dietetic Technicians face special challenges. Most, in fact, work with Registered Dietitians to coordinate patient menus; ensuring that each individual eats only those foods that correspond with their diets, and that they receive proper portions with each meal. Those who are ill cannot under or overindulge, and may not be alert or informed enough to monitor the amount and nature of their edible intake.

Patient diets can vary greatly according to their conditions. People with severe digestive problems may be relegated to a soft diet, consisting of gelatin, pudding, applesauce, or possibly even baby food.

By contrast, patients with broken limbs probably can enjoy a wide variety of rich solid foods; providing, of course, that these foods interact well with the person's painkillers and other medications.

Others may fall somewhere in between, consuming rich foods only in moderation, or eating modified versions of popular dishes (everything from hamburgers and meat loaf to mashed potatoes and dressing) that are low in sugar and fat.

It's evident, then, that Dietetic Technicians face special challenges and responsibilities not shared by others in the culinary field. Yet they also reap a number of benefits; on average, these specially trained chefs earn at least $26,000 a year. Plus you don't have to attend medical school to be a medical center Dietetic Technicians; many culinary schools offer classes and majors in this area.

Cook up an amazing, fulfilling career that could last a lifetime; check out culinary careers in the medical field today!

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Medical Careers Mentioned

  • Dietetic Technicians
    Salary: $26,080
    Job Prospects: B
    Education After HS: 2 years
    # Employed: 24,620
    Part Time: 33%
  • Dietitians and Nutritionists
    Salary: $50,590
    Job Prospects: B
    Education After HS: 5 years
    # Employed: 53,630
    Part Time: 33%

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