Every individual knows that nutrition and diet plays a very important role in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Prostate Disease, Obesity, and many more.
Most of us rely on our physicians for the important information that we need about a healthy diet, nutrition, and even the lifestyle that we should follow to combat these diseases or cure any illness that we have.
We expect them to be well-versed about nutrition, but in reality, our doctors are NOT qualified to help us when it comes to diet and nutrition.
The impact of the lack of nutrition education on Physician competence
So how can we expect them to really help us when they are not fully trained? In 2014, a group of well-known physicians wrote:
“nutrition is not given enough attention in medical practice”.
This revelation has made patients doubt their credibility. According to these doctors, they refer to these inquiring patients to dietitians instead.
That should not be the case. Right? They should be able to teach us this very basic information since they have also been given the right to prescribe our medications.
The current medical nutrition education is still inadequate. This is proven true because many physicians are not confident enough with their clinical nutrition skills especially when dealing with obese or overweight patients.
A survey was done to medical residents which shows that only 14% are prepared in providing competent nutritional counseling to their patients. Many primary practice physicians would want to improve in providing effective diet and nutritional advice.
What went wrong?
Medical students are receiving less than 20 hours of nutrition education and most are clinically irrelevant.
Three decades ago, 37% of medical schools provide ONE course in nutrition to their medical students. A recent survey says that the number has dramatically decreased to 27%. This simply means that if this is not corrected, in less than 20 years, this single course in nutrition will be dissolved in medical schools.
Before medical school, nutrition is not required. Pre-med education does not require nutrition. These aspiring doctors take calculus, physics, and even organic chemistry. These are considered irrelevant to the practice of medicine.
Why NUTRITION has been given such low importance?
There are several reasons why nutrition is not as important as other subjects in med-schools. One good reason is the lack of funding. These schools are short in faculty who are well-trained to provide these students with high-quality nutrition education.
They are more focused on treating diseases rather than focusing on the cause of these diseases, which one big factor is nutrition.
Another reason is that the curriculum for medical school is already crowded. It is not easy to make room for other priorities. The medical educations’ basic structure was established in the early ’20s and has not been changed ever since.
What has changed?
Medical practitioners would want to be able to provide more knowledgeable advice about the impact of nutrition on certain diseases. Or maybe they can also proactively refer their patients to registered dieticians. Luckily, there are actions that have been done to correct this problem.
“Healthy Kitchens” Counseling. The change should start from the physicians. This is where the physicians are motivated to undergo counseling about nutrition through an interactive cooking experience.
This program uses their kitchens to demonstrate to these physicians on how to translate nutrition science into nutritious yet very delicious meals. These are being implemented in universities, hospitals, as well as corporate buildings. Culinary Medicine.
This is a new model where it teaches medical students how to cook from which they would be able to pass the skills to their patients. Universities are now implementing this where students are able to take this as a form of electives or seminars.
NIM or Online Nutrition in Medicine Curriculum. This online Nutrition in Medicine curriculum is now widely used not only in the United States but also abroad. This is the newest initiative where the medical students are able to have a nutrition education through online sources that target practice-based educational units that can be completed in under 15 minutes.
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We know that physicians lead a healthcare team. It is their responsibility to provide patients with knowledge through counseling when it comes to nutrition needs.
Many are expecting to see positive results to follow through the efforts in changing their approach. Surveys are now being done worldwide to show the impact of nutrition education.
Many medical schools are now implementing an alternative curriculum to their students in order to improve the kind of nutrition education that they have before they even graduate.
Once this is continued, we can surely see a different change in how these physicians educate their patients about the relationship between nutrition and diet to the status of their health.