American Heart Association
Resources for Improving Medical Nutrition Education and Training Curricula
Real-world examples of efforts to improve undergraduate and graduate medical education in nutrition by integrating formal learning with practical, experiential, inquiry-driven, interprofessional, and population health management activities are provided. The resources discussed can provide faculty with significant support.
For additional information, please review the full article:
Aspry KE, Van Horn L, Carson JAS, Wylie-Rosett J, Kushner RF, Lichtenstein AH, Devries S, Freeman AM, Crawford A, Kris-Etherton P; on behalf of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention; and Stroke Council. Medical nutrition education, training, and competencies to advance guideline-based diet counseling by physicians: a science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018;137:e821–e841.
This science advisory reviews gaps in undergraduate and graduate medical education in nutrition in the United States, summarizes reforms that support and facilitate more robust nutrition education and training, and outlines new opportunities for accomplishing this goal via multidimensional curricula, pedagogies, technologies, and competency-based assessments. The competencies outlined provide a foundation and flexible options for advancing nutrition knowledge and skills across the learning continuum. The real-world experiences of dedicated nutrition educators and innovators suggest integrating formal learning in nutrition across organ systems and within practical, experiential, inquiry-driven, and interprofessional clinical activities.
Relatively few medical school faculty with training and expertise in nutrition and the general lack of institutional support and academic “homes” for those who do possess these qualifications have contributed to inadequate UME and GME in nutrition. However, multidimensional nutrition curricula that integrate the expertise of RDNs in particular, as well as nurses, behaviorists, and culinary experts, can greatly enhance the efforts of even a single faculty member or champion. Nutrition curriculum organizers might also find that medical nutrition education efforts by other faculty, RDNs, behaviorists, trainees, and students are already in place in other local programs, departments, or practices and can be tapped to help create broader and more integrated multidisciplinary nutrition education and training efforts.
The statement provides real-world opportunities for expanding medical nutrition education and training, including examples of:
- programs integrating nutrition education and training
- distinct lifestyle medicine curricula for nutrition education and training
- web-based nutrition education and training
- CVD-related nutrition competencies organized by ACGME domain
- entrustable professional activities (EPAs) relevant to nutrition competencies
CURRICULA BUILDING GUIDANCE
Faculty and curriculum developers seeking to expand their medical nutrition education and training efforts can find valuable information in the following publications, which provide both general guidance and descriptions of the steps and elements helpful for planning, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining an integrated nutrition education curriculum:
- A Novel Method of Increasing Medical Student Nutrition Awareness and Education
- A Novel Nutrition Medicine Education Model: The Boston University Experience
- Development of Case-Based Integrated Nutrition Curriculum for Medical Students
- Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interprofessional Education in Nutrition as an Essential Component of Medical Education
- Lessons Learned From Nutrition Curricular Enhancements
- Nutrition Education in Medical School: A Time of Opportunity
- Comprehensive Integration of Nutrition Into Medical Training
- Nutrition Academic Award Curriculum Guide
CONTINUING EDUCATION RESOURCES
Like most fields of medicine, nutrition science is rapidly evolving. Engaging in continuing medical education (CME) activities can help nutrition educators and faculty partners incorporate new, evidence-based nutrition science and educational tools into existing curricula and competency frameworks. Advertised to local practitioners, CME activities in nutrition also expand nutrition knowledge and the delivery of nutrition counseling by local primary care providers, advanced practice providers, hospitalists, specialists, medical students, trainees, and other clinician team members. The organizations listed below offer multiday or online CME activities focused on medical nutrition primarily for the prevention of ASCVD and other chronic diseases.
AHA Epidemiology/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions
An annual 4-day AHA scientific session devoted to the development and application of translational and population science related to heart disease and stroke prevention and the advancement of cardiovascular health, with a major focus on the role of diet and lifestyle.
Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives
A 4-day course organized by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, held in Napa, CA, that bridges nutrition science, health care, and the culinary arts.
International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine
A 2-day course organized by the George Washington School of Medicine and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, held annually in Washington, DC, that updates the science linking nutrition to cardiometabolic and other disorders.
International Plant-Based Nutrition Conference
An annual 4-day course hosted by the Plantrician Project, that presents the latest science on the health benefits of plant-based eating.
A 2-day course organized by the Institute for Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School that integrates formal learning about advances in diet and lifestyle with practical skills such as counseling techniques and practice-based culinary education tools and strategies.
Mayo Clinic Nutrition and Wellness in Health and Disease
A 2-day CME course organized by the Mayo Clinic Office of Continuous Professional Development that covers ambulatory topics in nutrition, LM, and wellness.
Nutrition & Health Conference
A 3-day course organized by the University of Arizona that reviews the latest information on nutrition and health presented by scientific researchers, clinicians, and food policy and culinary experts.
Nutrition Science for Health and Longevity: What Every Health Professional Needs to Know
A 3-hour, self-paced, interactive nutrition course from the nonprofit Gaples Institute that emphasizes clinically relevant nutrition science, counseling strategies, and practical tips for making nutritional interventions in a busy clinical setting. $50; qualifies for CME and American Board of Internal Medicine maintenance of certification.
Introduction to Food and Health
A 2.5-hour, multimodule CME activity from Stanford University Center for Continuing Medical Education that also features speakers from Harvard School of Public Health and that covers basic principles of nutrition, the use of motivational interviewing and nutritional assessment using evidence-based techniques and tools, and the process of guiding patients through diet behavior change. Uses didactic videos, animated cases, and interactive and experiential activities.
AHA Healthy Living Continuing Education Series
A series of free 1- to 1.5-hour science-based slide and video presentations with continuing education credits created by the AHA for health professionals and their patients, including The Facts on Fats, Living Healthy With Less Added Sugar, Smart Food Shopping, and Simple Cooking.