Cross-Sectional Study of U.S. Interns' Perceptions of Clinical Nutrition Education

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Abstract

Background.

Medical students have historically perceived a lack of training in clinical nutrition. Rapid advances in medical science have compelled significant changes in medical education pedagogy. It is unclear what effect this has had on student's perceptions.

Objective.

To assess interns' perception of clinical nutrition education during medical school.

Design.

A cross-sectional survey of medical, surgical, and obstetric interns from 6 academic hospitals across the United States during the middle of their first year in November of 2010 (n = 289). Bivariate analysis and logistic regression was used to describe interns' perceptions and evaluate for factors that determined these perceptions.

Results.

A total of 122 interns responded to the survey, for a response rate of 42%. These interns represented 72 different medical schools. Only 29% of interns reported they had been sufficiently trained in nutrition. On average, interns who reported being prepared reported a mean of 4 ± 3.4 weeks of training during medical school, while unprepared interns reported a mean of 2 ± 2.6 weeks of training (P = .02). Interns with prior graduate training in nutrition (n = 18) almost exclusively reported that medical school training was insufficient (94%, P = .02). After adjusting for age, gender, internship, undergraduate training, and being a foreign graduate, only the number of weeks of training remained significantly associated with perceived preparation (P = .03).

Conclusion.

Most interns in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics feel unprepared to handle cases requiring knowledge of clinical nutrition. Interns feel that medical school is not adequately preparing them for the needs of clinical practice.

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