In hospitals across the country, dietary aides are in charge of preparing and delivering meals to patients. Since this career doesn't require a college education, a career as a dietary aide appeals to many women who want to start working in a medical setting without having to devote years to learning the ins and outs of the trade. While precise responsibilities might vary from one hospital to another, most dietary aides have similar duties.
The majority of a dietary aide's time is spent delivering meals directly to patients. She fills out a card for every tray that includes information about the meal and the patient it is intended for. She then carefully arranges tray cards, loads meals onto a cart and travels around the hospital delivering each meal to the correct room. During this time, she might engage in short, friendly chats with patients to brighten their day.
Some hospitals enlist the help of dietary aides in actually cooking and preparing meals. Aides assist cooks and kitchen staff in compiling ingredients, following directions and cooking foods that comply with patient meal plans. They must be quick -- yet efficient -- workers to ensure that foods are prepared and ready to be served at scheduled snack and meal times.
Cleaning and Sanitation
Because many people in hospitals have compromised immune systems, it's essential that every inch of the facility stays clean and free of germs. This is especially important for eating utensils, plates and trays. Dietary aides are in charge of cleaning and sanitizing all utensils and surfaces in the kitchen area, as well as plates and trays after they're no longer being used by patients. They also sanitize food carts to make sure they aren't pushing germs through the hospital every day at work.
Most hospitals utilize the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP, food safety system to make sure all food served to patients is properly prepared and safe to eat. Dietary aides must follow all rules and regulations set forth by HACCP standards, from washing their hands before touching food and utensils to making sure all foods are cooked at the proper temperature.