Nutrition and public health in medical education in the UK: reflections and next steps

Jonathan Broad*, Megan Wallace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Doctors play an important role in the identification of nutritional disorders and as advocates for a healthy diet, and although the key tenets of good nutrition education for medical students have been discussed, reports on implementation are sparse. The present commentary responds to a gap in UK medical students’ understanding of nutrition and public health and suggests ways to improve it. Design: We review literature about nutrition education in medical schools and discuss a 6-week elective in public health nutrition for medical students. We discuss suggested competencies in nutrition and compare means of students’ confidence and knowledge before and after. Setting: A nutrition and public health elective in a UK medical school, discussing advocacy, motivational interviewing, supplements, nutritional deficits, parenteral nutrition, obesity services. We utilised multidisciplinary teaching approaches including dietitians, managers and pharmacists, and students implemented a public health activity in a local school. Subjects: Fifteen final-year medical students were enrolled; sixty school pupils participated in the public health activity. Results: The students were not confident in nutrition competencies before and were taught less than European counterparts. Students enjoyed the course, had improved knowledge, and felt more confident in interviewing and prescribing supplements. Feedback from the local school was positive. Conclusions: Students in our UK medical school were not confident in their required competencies within the confines of the current educational programme. An elective course can improve medical students’ knowledge. Similar courses could be implemented in other medical schools to improve nutrition and public health knowledge and practice in future doctors.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date30 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Medical education
  • Nutrition
  • Public health
  • Undergraduate education

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