National Association Reports
    Being a freelance dietitian in Hungary
    Vol. 17 Issue 2
    Country: Hungary
    To become freelance self-employed in Hungary, dietitians with a university degree need authorisation from the National Public Health and Medical Officer Service (NPHMOS), a detailed professional programme, and personal identification documents. Freelance dietitians can show their ambition in fields where a state employee cannot or can do so only with bigger compromises.

    Authorised by the NPHMOS, dietitians are obliged to take part in professional courses regularly and maintain an up-to-date professional knowledge.

    It is possible to work as self-employed part-time (besides a full-time job), or full-time either as the owner/contractor of a company or on their own behalf.

    The members of the Hungarian Dietitians Association (HAD) or experienced colleagues can help in getting started, and to obtain the necessary documents. The HDA also regularly mediates jobs between companies and members of the Association, playing an important role in getting opportunities as a contractor.

    Új Diéta (New Diet), the professional journal issued by the Association, has a separate column where interested readers can get practical, up-to date news about this topic.

    Being self-employed as a dietitian means that one can counsel individuals and groups, plan and give an expert opinion on sample menus, analyse food diaries and participate in nutritional studies.

    Entering into a barter contract and becoming the expert of a website in exchange for free advertisement opportunity, dietitians can give on-line advice for the readers. It is very common that printed magazines or websites ask dietitians to be their expert, write articles and answer readers' questions.

    Often, usually together with a specialist doctor, one can get a job by writing and publishing recipe books and booklets. In the fitness and wellness industry, there are more and more dietitians working in bodybuilding centres, wellness hotels, beauty salons, although these usually mean only occasional employment.

    In case of common diseases such as diabetes and various food allergies, there is usually a dietitian, occasionally working as self-employed, helping the doctor. Similarly, we can meet dietitians practicing at private clinics, too.

    Besides outpatient care, dietitians having expertise in clinical nutrition can practice in the fields of hospice and home care nursing, where they can help patients by selecting the appropriate type and doses of enteral or parenteral nutrition products.

    It is not uncommon that food delivery companies hire a dietitian to plan the menu, give dietary advice, or plan personalised diets. Similar, but not so common yet, is when food marts hire a regular dietitian who informs customers about nutrition related news. Dietitians, as consultants of companies in the food industry, can also contribute to informing the public about the physiological importance of products that are part of a healthy diet.

    Freelance dietitians can get occasional opportunities as presenters at conferences or public health events. These events are good opportunities for giving advice and getting new clients.

    The most important as an entrepreneur is constantly delivering work of the highest quality, and thus building up a professional reputation, credit, and a well functioning network of professional relationships. With good references, it is much easier to advance professionally. In recent years, healthy eating and lifestyle have become very popular and highly controversial topics, resulting in much competition amongst a wide variety of experts. We need to gain reputation in our profession so that we are asked for advice rather than neighbors, hairdressers, or self-declared experts without qualification. There is also a challenge to create a need for patients that require a special diet, to meet a dietitian as early as possible, either by the recommendation of the GP or any other specialist. Freelance dietitians can play a key role here besides state-employed dietitians working in in-and-outpatient care.

    It is also very important to appear as experts in the media as often as possible. These are without compensation, but can be useful for building new relationships.

    In general, being freelance is not easy, but the daily challenges and the diverse, interesting work can provide opportunities for fast and visible professional development, which pays for the sacrifices and risks taken.

    Judit Schmidt, dietitian, Hungarian Dietitians Association (HDA), Editorial Board, deputy editor of Új Diéta
    Anita Klima, dietitian, HDA, Communications Committee