ABSTRACT: Nutrition competencies in health professionals’ education and training: a new paradigm.
Most health care professionals are not adequately trained to address diet and nutrition-related issues with their patients, thus missing important opportunities to ameliorate chronic diseases and improve outcomes in acute illness. In this symposium, the speakers reviewed the status of nutrition education for health care professionals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Nutrition education is not required for educating and training physicians in many countries. Nutrition education for the spectrum of health care professionals is uncoordinated, which runs contrary to the current theme of interprofessional education. The central role of competencies in guiding medical education was emphasized and the urgent need to establish competencies in nutrition-related patient care was presented. The importance of additional strategies to improve nutrition education of health care professionals was highlighted. Public health legislation such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act recognizes the role of nutrition, however, to capitalize on this increasing momentum, health care professionals must be trained to deliver needed services. Thus, there is a pressing need to garner support from stakeholders to achieve this goal. Promoting a research agenda that provides outcome-based evidence on individual and public health levels is needed to improve and sustain effective interprofessional nutrition education.