Medical Nutrition Education, Training, and Competencies to Advance Guideline-Based Diet Counseling by Physicians: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association
Growing scientific evidence of the benefits of heart-healthy dietary patterns and of the massive public health and economic burdens attributed to obesity and poor diet quality have triggered national calls to increase diet counseling in outpatients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or risk factors. However, despite evidence that physicians are willing to undertake this task and are viewed as credible sources of diet information, they engage patients in diet counseling at less than desirable rates and cite insufficient knowledge and training as barriers. These data align with evidence of large and persistent gaps in medical nutrition education and training in the United States. Now, major reforms in undergraduate and graduate medical education designed to incorporate advances in the science of learning and to better prepare physicians for 21st century healthcare delivery are providing a new impetus and novel ways to expand medical nutrition education and training. 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. 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 authors conclude that enhancing physician education and training in nutrition, as well as increasing collaborative nutrition care delivery by 21st century health systems, will reduce the health and economic burdens from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease to a degree not previously realized.
- © 2018 American Heart Association, Inc.