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MedEdPORTAL. 2018 Aug 17;14:10742. doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10742.

An Interprofessional Approach to Teaching Nutrition Counseling to Medical Students.

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Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
Resident, Department of Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Extension Educator, Department of Allied Health Sciences Dietetics Program, University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.



Many physicians do not feel competent providing nutritional counseling to patients. A minimum of 25 hours dedicated to nutrition is recommended in preclinical years, but only 40% of U.S. medical schools achieve this goal. Nutrition counseling is best done when physicians work collaboratively with registered dietitians (RDs). We sought to introduce this interprofessional approach in our preclinical curriculum.


In our first-year doctoring course, students viewed a nutrition lecture from a physician and RD. Teams of two to three medical students and one dietetics student were formed. The medical students took a history and performed nutrition counseling on the dietetics student role-playing a patient. The RD student provided feedback and reviewed clinical questions pertaining to the nutrition case. Medical students presented answers to their assigned case to the whole group. Medical students completed pre-/postsurveys assessing satisfaction and perceived confidence with nutrition counseling and were formally assessed using a standardized patient. The scores were compared to students from the year before who received the lecture but not the RD student activity.


Eighty-one medical students participated. After the activity, there was an increase in confidence with nutrition counseling (p < .001), and 74% found working with dietetics students to be helpful or extremely helpful. The nutrition counseling mean score increased from 68% (historical control, n = 76) to 84% (n = 75; p < .001) on the standardized patient assessment.


This format is an effective method of teaching nutrition counseling and promoting interprofessional behavior among rising physicians and RDs.


Dietetics Students; Interprofessional Curriculum; Nutrition; Nutrition Counseling; Preclinical Medical Students; Standardized Patients

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