Show Me Your Objectives: Nutrition Education in a US Medical School Curriculum
Health authorities around the globe have called for improvement in nutrition education in medical schools. It was deemed necessary to study our current curriculum to document what exists and identify gaps. This project surveyed nutrition education objectives within a US medical school during 1 year followed by informal interviews of faculty aimed toward improvement in the curriculum.
A survey tool was created using the list of competencies in Table 1 of “Nutrition Competencies for Graduating Medical Students” from the Nutrition in Medicine (NIM) project. Educational objectives for all 26 courses encompassing the first-, second-, and third-year curriculum at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNM SOM) were surveyed in order to identify the current nutrition curriculum content. Faculty course directors were contacted after data collection to verify accuracy and fill in any missing information.
Out of 61 competencies, at least one was covered in 16 of 26 courses (62%) by survey of objectives. Additional content in nutrition education was identified for 4/16 (25%) of these courses through follow-up faculty interviews. Findings were discussed with three key curricular groups.
The study results highlighted the importance of accurately publishing objectives to fully reflect course content. This project demonstrates an approach that may be utilized at other medical schools to assess nutrition education curricula and create a structure for dialog within their own institutions.
KeywordsNutrition Nutrition education Learning objectives Curriculum Medical school Nutrition competencies
I thank the UNM Division of General Internal Medicine for supporting my participation in the Medical Education Scholars Program within which the majority of this research design and data collection took place. I thank faculty colleagues Drs. Dorothy Vanderjagt, David Rakel, and Elizabeth Lawrence for reviewing my original manuscript and providing suggestions for improvement. Tremendous thanks to Rebecca Hartley for detailed editorial suggestions and encouragement with respect to this final revision.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.
Permission to reprint Table 1 (which appears in Appendix I) from the Adams  article was granted by SAGE publishing.
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