Counterbalancing the Uncertainties of Medical Nutrition Education With Effective Online Instruction

Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2019;92:133-142. doi: 10.1159/000499556. Epub 2019 Nov 28.


Practicing physicians need to recognize nutrition problems in their patients and know what to do about them. It takes at least 25-30 h of medical school instruction to achieve just basic nutrition competencies. Because most medical students get significantly less than this minimum, they are not adequately prepared to deal with common nutrition-related challenges in practice. The majority of all accredited US medical schools require <25 h of nutrition instruction across the entire 4-year curriculum and a few still fail to require any nutrition education at all. Medical schools in other countries struggle with the same instructional deficits and many fail altogether to address the need for proper nutrition training. The greatest deficits exist in teaching clinical practice and practical problem solving. The Nutrition in Medicine (NIM) project (, with materials used by a majority of US medical schools as well as institutions in >20 countries, has demonstrated that computer-based nutrition instruction is effective and efficient, particularly as an integral component of clinical training. Interactive components, skill-building exercises, and practice challenges with video-realistic patients allow learners to progress at their own pace and ensure that all of them learn what they need to know.