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The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools


Affiliations
1 Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 800 Eastowne Drive, Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
2 HarvardMedical School, Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center, 50 Staniford Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02114, United States
 

Purpose: To assess the state of nutrition education at US medical schools and compare it with recommended instructional targets. Method: We surveyed all 133 US medical schools with a four-year curriculum about the extent and type of required nutrition education during the 2012/13 academic year. Results: Responses came from 121 institutions (91% response rate). Most US medical schools (86/121, 71%) fail to provide the recommended minimum 25 hours of nutrition education; 43 (36%) provide less than half that much. Nutrition instruction is still largely confined to preclinical courses, with an average of 14.3 hours occurring in this context. Less than half of all schools report teaching any nutrition in clinical practice; practice accounts for an average of only 4.7 hours overall. Seven of the 8 schools reporting at least 40 hours of nutrition instruction provided integrated courses together with clinical practice sessions. Conclusions: Many US medical schools still fail to prepare future physicians for everyday nutrition challenges in clinical practice. It cannot be a realistic expectation for physicians to effectively address obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hospital malnutrition, and many other conditions as long as they are not taught during medical school and residency training how to recognize and treat the nutritional root causes.
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  • The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools

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Authors

Kelly M. Adams
Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 800 Eastowne Drive, Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
W. Scott Butsch
HarvardMedical School, Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center, 50 Staniford Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02114, United States
Martin Kohlmeier
Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 800 Eastowne Drive, Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States

Abstract


Purpose: To assess the state of nutrition education at US medical schools and compare it with recommended instructional targets. Method: We surveyed all 133 US medical schools with a four-year curriculum about the extent and type of required nutrition education during the 2012/13 academic year. Results: Responses came from 121 institutions (91% response rate). Most US medical schools (86/121, 71%) fail to provide the recommended minimum 25 hours of nutrition education; 43 (36%) provide less than half that much. Nutrition instruction is still largely confined to preclinical courses, with an average of 14.3 hours occurring in this context. Less than half of all schools report teaching any nutrition in clinical practice; practice accounts for an average of only 4.7 hours overall. Seven of the 8 schools reporting at least 40 hours of nutrition instruction provided integrated courses together with clinical practice sessions. Conclusions: Many US medical schools still fail to prepare future physicians for everyday nutrition challenges in clinical practice. It cannot be a realistic expectation for physicians to effectively address obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hospital malnutrition, and many other conditions as long as they are not taught during medical school and residency training how to recognize and treat the nutritional root causes.