MD student spotlight: Congratulations Elisabeth Clinch – Nutrition in Medical Education award

We are delighted to announce one of our final year Doctor of Medicine (MD) students - Elisabeth Clinch - has won a Nutrition in Medical Education Award. Elisabeth took out the top prize at an annual NHMRC symposium in Canberra regarding nutrition education across the health professions.

Elisabeth Clinch

The competition was open to students in medicine, nursing and allied health sciences across Australia and NZ (but excluding nutrition students) so it is certainly a significant achievement. Students were required to write a 1200 word reflective essay on a clinical patient encounter showing how nutrition knowledge and skills was an integral component of the management plan and essential for improved health outcomes. Elisabeth reflected on her experience looking after a patient with cystic fibrosis. Elisabeth receives a $250 cash prize in addition to the award.  It is fantastic to see students responding to the increased integration of nutrition into the MD curriculum.

The need to integrate nutrition into the medical curriculum was driven by recognition of the high burden of disease attributable to poor diet in Australia; reflected in the increasing prevalence of dietary related conditions, such as, hypertension, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Australian research has found that medical graduates are not well equipped to provide patients with nutrition information and counselling despite numerous studies demonstrating that the public looks to doctors to provide credible and practical nutrition education and advice. Currently, the MD curriculum provides integrated lectures in nutrition in first year with plans to incorporate more learning activities for practical counselling skills in second and third years and look at the opportunity for students to undertake a nutrition related research project in fourth year.