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Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interprofessional Education in Nutrition as an Essential Component of Medical Education

      Abstract

      It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) should play a significant role in educating medical students, residents, fellows, and physicians in practice. The more physicians learn about the effectiveness of nutrition for the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, the more likely they are to consult with RDNs and refer patients for medical nutrition therapy. The more interprofessional education that occurs between medical students, other health professional students, and RDNs, the more likely all health care professionals will understand and value the role of the RDN in improving the quality of care provided to patients. The training and experience of RDNs make them uniquely qualified for the role of educating medical students about nutrition as it relates to health and disease. This position paper provides RDNs with the tools and language to emphasize to medical educators, course directors, curriculum committees, medical school deans, residency and fellowship directors, physicians, and other health professionals in training and practice how ongoing nutrition counseling and management, conducted by an RDN, can benefit their patients. Specific teaching settings and examples for RDNs to take a leadership role (paid and unpaid positions) in ensuring that future physicians discuss nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and physical activity with their patients, consult with RDNs, and refer patients for medical nutrition therapy are presented. This position paper supports interprofessional education in nutrition as an essential component of medical education.
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