Posted on 09/28/2012 at 09:45:54 AM by Student BloggerBy Chris Sovey, RN, BSN
I must admit that as a medical professional my training in nutrition was sparse. In our curriculum, we were required to complete one basic nutrition course as a prerequisite to our Bachelor's of Nursing degree. I'm not alone. Several medical schools across the United States build in less than 10 contact hours of nutritional education (Adams, Lindell, Kohlmeier & Zeisel, 2006). Yet, for some bizarre reason, we consult with physicians regarding nutritional advice. It seems counterintuitive to me. This is certainly not the primary focus of a physician. Fortunately, the curricula in medical schools are pushing toward integrative approaches that place higher value on nutritional counseling.
Through my own research, I discovered that most of my basic nutrition information was of little use from a practical perspective. At the completion of my coursework, I recalled frequent vague mentioning of the importance of proper nutrition in recovery from illness. It was typically glossed over, as if second rate. Suddenly Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs no longer applied. I felt unsatisfied with so many deep, burning questions like:
• How can I possibly eat healthier on a rushed schedule and advise my patients to do the same?
• Is hospital food completely void of nutritional benefit? Since when did nutritional quality of food take such a low priority on the medical totem pole?
• What role does the quality of food play in healing and recovery from illness? (I am still exploring this concept as a Doctoral Student of Physical Therapy.)
• What is a “balanced” diet? Does the general public have a clue?
• How does the environment, quality of soil, Genetically Modified Foods relate to the realm of pathophysiology and disease?
• As a clinician, will I be able to respond to the dietary needs and requests of my patients without stepping outside my scope of practice?
These inquiries are primary reasons I joined the ASN. I wanted to be able to provide solid, peer-reviewed evidence to questions that a lot of people are asking. There's an ever-increasing degree of curiosity with the information age. Unfortunately, many of these topics are still under investigation, and few have appropriately-controlled studies. I'd even go as far to argue that there is an abundance of conflicts of interest that may skew data in these difficult questions.
I started to realize things could get pretty messy when I snooped around too much. I have my biases about this subject, as I am sure many others do. I like to keep things as simple as possible, and I have developed simple answers to some of my own questions. In essence I've tried to find ways to bypass all the unknowns and just arrive at a point of logical, easy-to-apply methods in my clinical practice.
Look for Part Two shortly, which offers my proposed simple solutions.