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Nutrition in medical education: reflections from an initiative at the University of Cambridge

Authors Ball L, Crowley J, Laur C, Rajput-Ray M, Gillam S, Ray S

Received 12 December 2013

Accepted for publication 16 January 2014

Published 21 May 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 209—215

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S59071

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Video abstract presented by Lauren Ball.

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Lauren Ball,1 Jennifer Crowley,2 Celia Laur,3 Minha Rajput-Ray,3 Stephen Gillam,4 Sumantra Ray3

1Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Allied Health Sciences, Centre for Health Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; 2Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 3Need for Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme, Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK; 4Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Abstract: Landmark reports have confirmed that it is within the core responsibilities of doctors to address nutrition in patient care. There are ongoing concerns that doctors receive insufficient nutrition education during medical training. This paper provides an overview of a medical nutrition education initiative at the University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, including 1) the approach to medical nutrition education, 2) evaluation of the medical nutrition education initiative, and 3) areas identified for future improvement. The initiative utilizes a vertical, spiral approach during the clinically focused years of the Cambridge undergraduate and graduate medical degrees. It is facilitated by the Nutrition Education Review Group, a group associated with the UK Need for Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme, and informed by the experiences of their previous nutrition education interventions. Three factors were identified as contributing to the success of the nutrition education initiative including the leadership and advocacy skills of the nutrition academic team, the variety of teaching modes, and the multidisciplinary approach to teaching. Opportunities for continuing improvement to the medical nutrition education initiative included a review of evaluation tools, inclusion of nutrition in assessment items, and further alignment of the Cambridge curriculum with the recommended UK medical nutrition education curriculum. This paper is intended to inform other institutions in ongoing efforts in medical nutrition education.

Keywords: undergraduate medical education, nutrition, curriculum


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