MANUSCRIPT: Teaching by example: educating medical students through a weight management experience.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:Surgeons General, the Institute of Medicine, and others have called for physicians to be role models for meeting the obesity epidemic. There are few published reports describing undergraduate medical education obesity curriculum elements. Physician experiences, knowledge, and attitudes have been shown to affect patient counseling behavior of physicians.METHODS:Required and extra credit obesity educational interventions were designed for third-year family medicine clerkship. For extra credit, students completed a personal weight management experience that spanned at least 4 weeks, included calculations of body mass index BMI, waist circumference, caloric needs, description of eating and physical activity and monitoring plan, and a final report and reflection.RESULTS:During 2011–2012, 72% of the students completed this extra credit activity with almost all losing or maintaining their weight. Most reflected gratitude for this opportunity and their increased empathy for patients as they struggle with weight issues.CONCLUSIONS:Medical students completing a weight management experience during their third-year clerkship can see the effects on their own health while developing empathy for and understanding of the weight management struggles of their patients. Minimal faculty time commitment is required.