Leigh Frame, PhD, Publishes Article, Guest Edits Special Issue of Journal
In a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Leigh A. Frame, PhD, program director of the Integrative Medicine Programs and assistant professor of clinical research and leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), played dual roles: guest editor and article author.
“I’m thrilled to serve as guest editor, and I’m also excited for this platform to promote the inclusion of nutrition in interprofessional education,” Frame said. “It is critical for all health professionals to counsel their patients on the importance of healthy eating as a foundation of well-being.”
In her article, “Nutrition, a Tenet of Lifestyle Medicine But Not Medicine?” Frame reports that nutrition, one of the pillars of lifestyle medicine, and its role in clinical care are widely accepted, but there is a gap in communicating its importance in health care. According to Frame, this gap is due to inadequate training for health care professionals to advise their patients on nutrition, which results in a need for patient care improvement.
“This gap can be closed with evidence-based curricula in medical schools and in the training of other health care professionals,” Frame said. “Pre- through post-professional health care providers can become proficient in nutrition counseling, including appropriate referral to more specialized providers, by following the model we use in the SMHS integrative medicine graduate programs.”
The model includes five basic competencies: performing basic nutritional assessments in the outpatient setting; counseling patients on basic public health nutrition issues, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension; recognizing fads, including nonevidence-based diets and supplements; understanding when and how to refer patients to a registered dietician nutritionist or other professional and the context of the consultation; and recognizing and planning for personal nutrition, physical activity, and wellness.
The SMHS model also includes assessments, such as clinical rotations, standardized patient interactions, and case-based conferences, and a course in nutritional immunology, a culmination of students’ knowledge with real-world application. Further, the coursework is online and asynchronous, making it accessible for working professionals.
“With these skills, health care professionals will be able to initiate patient-centered lifestyle plans, including how to improve diets and use team-based medicine and referrals,” Frame said. “We can improve our ability to care for patients as a whole and ensure one of the most basic tenets of health is not going overlooked.”
Read the article in the special issue, “The Lifestyle Medicine Movement: An Extension of Public Health into Medicine.”