Status of nutrition education in medical schools

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):941S-944S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.4.941S.


Background: Numerous entreaties have been made over the past 2 decades to improve the nutrition knowledge and skills of medical students and physicians. However, most graduating medical students continue to rate their nutrition preparation as inadequate.

Objective: The objective was to determine the amount and type of nutrition instruction at US medical schools, especially including the instruction that occurs outside designated nutrition courses.

Design: A 12-item survey asked nutrition educators to characterize nutrition instruction at their medical schools (required, optional, or not offered) and to quantify nutrition contact hours occurring both inside and outside designated nutrition courses. During 2004, we surveyed all 126 US medical schools accredited at that time.

Results: A total of 106 surveys were returned for a response rate of 84%. Ninety-nine of the 106 schools responding required some form of nutrition education; however, only 32 schools (30%) required a separate nutrition course. On average, students received 23.9 contact hours of nutrition instruction during medical school (range: 2-70 h). Only 40 schools required the minimum 25 h recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. Most instructors (88%) expressed the need for additional nutrition instruction at their institutions.

Conclusion: With the move to a more integrated curriculum and problem-based learning at many medical schools, a substantial portion of the total nutrition instruction is occurring outside courses specifically dedicated to nutrition. The amount of nutrition education in medical schools remains inadequate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Schools, Medical / standards*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • United States