AACOM Releases Historic Statement After “Food As Medicine”

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Kansas City, MO, April 19, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) convened a special Friday Forum during it’s Educating Leaders 2024 conference to focus on the emerging concept of “Food as Medicine”.

“We are witnessing a dynamic shift in the healthcare landscape. As physicians and osteopathic medical educators, it is imperative we recognize and embrace this shift,” said Robert Cain, DO, President and CEO of AACOM. “Understanding and addressing the impact of healthy eating patterns and access to nutritious food on health, prevention and management of chronic disease is crucial for future physicians.”

Recently, the White House committed to a new healthcare framework that echoes osteopathic medicine’s century-old principles. Additionally, Congressional and Health and Human Services leaders are voicing support for community-oriented health solutions, another foundation of osteopathic medicine. DO’s holistic approach is more relevant than ever and the osteopathic medical community in a uniquely qualified to lead this effort.

Following presentations from subject matter experts Dawn Musselman, DO and Alissa Wassung, as well as breakout sessions addressing key aspects of food as medicine, the attendees voiced support for the following first of its kind statement:

Elevating Health through Nutrition: Embracing the Principles of Food as Medicine in Osteopathic Medical Education

As osteopathic physicians and educators, we adhere to the principles of treating the whole person—body, mind and spirit.  As true healing encompasses more than the treatment of symptoms, these principles require us to address the underlying factors that influence health and wellbeing. Nutrition stands at the forefront, and the principle of food as medicine must play a pivotal role in shaping our approach to patient care. 

Understanding and addressing the impact of healthy eating patterns and access to nutritious food on health, prevention and management of chronic disease is crucial for future physicians. By integrating the concept of food as medicine into their education, osteopathic medical students can better appreciate the interconnectedness of nutrition to physical and psychological health, leading to more comprehensive and effective patient care. 

The members of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) are committed to enhancing nutrition education and incorporating food as medicine principles in all Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COMs). We will work to support our members to implement these five guiding principles to ensure our graduating osteopathic physicians are equipped with the knowledge and skills to leverage food as medicine in their future practices, promoting holistic health and wellness for their patients and communities.  

  1. Integration of Nutrition Across the Medical Education Continuum: Integrate nutrition education through the lens of the osteopathic principles, throughout the pre-clinical and clinical curricula; within basic science, osteopathic clinical skills courses, on clinical rotations, through postgraduate training, and continuing with faculty development and CME for graduated physicians. 
  2. Curriculum Development: Develop evidence-based nutrition curricula tailored to the needs of osteopathic medical students, with an emphasis on integrative approaches to health and wellness. 
  3. Experiential Learning Opportunities and Community Engagement: Partner with community organizations to offer hands-on experiences such as culinary medicine workshops, community garden projects, simulation sessions and cooking classes. Provide students with practical skills for counseling patients on dietary interventions and healthful eating patterns. 
  4. Interprofessional Collaboration: Foster collaboration among medical students, dieticians, chefs, and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care that addresses both medical and nutritional needs. 
  5. Clinical Training in Nutritional Counseling: Provide a deeper understanding of the evidence-based recommendations as well as dedicated training in patient counseling techniques, such as motivational interviewing and behavioral change strategies, to empower students to effectively communicate with patients about lifestyle modifications. 

AACOM and its members are proud to lead the medical education profession in developing nutrition education that embodies the core principles of whole person health and wellness that characterize osteopathic medicine. This enables future practitioners to view food as more than mere sustenance but as a powerful form of improving the health and wellbeing of all. 

About AACOM:

Founded in 1898, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is the leading voice for the education and training of physicians who practice osteopathic medicine in settings across the medical spectrum—from primary care to the full range of medical specialties. We support our member colleges of osteopathic medicine in their efforts to attract and train individuals who are fueled by a desire to make a difference in our healthcare system by treating the whole person and building a future emphasizing health and wellness for all people. Today, more than 36,000 future physicians—25 percent of all U.S. medical students—are being educated at one of our 41 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine, encompassing 66 teaching locations in 35 states. To learn more about AACOM, please visit our website.


            

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