Physician Nutrition Education Program (PNEP): Survey and Continuing Medical Education (CME) Development to Increase Nutrition Knowledge
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Physicians hold the most influence among healthcare providers, when it comes to providing guidance regarding the general health and well-being of patients. The contact between physicians and their patients during scheduled appointments serve as prime opportunities for providing nutrition and lifestyle counseling. For decades, nutritionists and health care experts have expressed the need to increase the number and availability of nutrition education programs for physicians. However, nationwide physicians lack the education in nutrition and lifestyle counseling, thus report limited counseling in practice settings. This dissertation seeks to address this challenge, and is in two parts: 1) develop a survey needs assessment (the PNEP survey) to determine interest in nutrition education opportunities and 2) perform an evaluation of online continuing medical education (CME) courses focused on nutrition topics. The initial survey was administered online between May 2015 and August 2015 to Texas physicians to determine interest in nutrition education. The baseline needs assessment confirmed the demand for nutrition education courses, specifically an interest in online CME. This research is important because it confirms the supposition of limited opportunities for nutrition in medicine. Our findings indicate physicians recognize that nutrition focused CME courses will add value to their practices and are interested in enrolling in them. For phase two of the study, online CME courses were developed based on the topics of interest identified from the PNEP survey. A total of three courses were developed by collaboration between a practicing physician and a practicing dietitian. These courses were then subsequently accredited and made available to physicians through state-level medical education platforms. Results from March 2017 showed one-hundred and twenty physicians participated in these courses, with ongoing participation beyond data collection for this dissertation. This phase was important because it fulfilled the current gap in the literature regarding nutrition focused continuing education course development for physicians in Texas. Unique to these courses was the development of the course structure. Structure utilizes the ARCS Model of Motivation and the IOM Core Competencies to develop nutrition knowledge and practical application tools to apply knowledge into patient care. This unique course design brings forth a concept that can be adapted for future nutrition CME course development. Preliminary research showed a wide gap in educational offerings focused on nutrition concepts, this work contributed to filling this gap by demonstrating need in the survey and producing course offerings available to physicians. Future research is recommended to continue to develop online nutrition CME courses to determine if online delivery has clinical impact on patient health outcomes.
Hicks, Kristen (2017). Physician Nutrition Education Program (PNEP): Survey and Continuing Medical Education (CME) Development to Increase Nutrition Knowledge. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from