Rooting for Wellness: An Initiative Introducing Plant-Based Nutrition to First Year Medical Students
Advances in preventive medicine have demonstrated the crucial role of whole-food unprocessed plant-based nutrition in reducing disease burden. Nutrition education and plant-based nutrition is seldom included in medical curriculum and is thus seldom incorporated into clinical care. Additionally, personal exposure to lifestyle modifications, including nutrition and diet, is associated with a provider’s willingness to recommend lifestyle modifications in clinical encounters. We offer this editorial to our fellow health professions’ students, practicing healthcare providers, and those community leaders intending to advocate for the patient population via evidence-based curricular enhancement. Our primary effort, Rooting for Wellness, consisted of a mandatory four-week segment within Wayne State University School of Medicine’s (WSUSOM’s) Patient, Population, Physician and Professional (P4) curriculum, which culminated in a required half-day event consisting of patient/provider panels and an interactive cooking demonstration. Prior to the curriculum, we provided several voluntary extracurricular
opportunities for plant-based engagement including a 4-week plant-based kickstart program, cooking demonstration, journal club, and guest speaker events. To our knowledge, this is the first exclusively mandatory plant-based nutritional intervention undertaken at a medical institution in the United States. The strategy presented here may serve as a model for similar initiatives at a variety of institutions and settings.