Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: An Assessment of Nutrition Content in USMLE STEP Preparation Materials

Shaily Patel, Katelynn H Taylor, Kathryn L Berlin, Roy W Geib, Robin Danek, Gabi N Waite


In the U.S., the numbers of obese individuals and of obesity-related health conditions are rising. While physiciansunderstand the need to improve patient health by promoting a healthy lifestyle, the advancement of nutritioneducation in medical school and residency is not keeping pace. This is evident in the inadequate time dedicated tonutrition education by medical schools and in the dissatisfaction of medical students and residents with their medicalnutrition training.The aim of the current study was to investigate how food, diet, nutrition, and obesity are represented in the U.S.medical school licensing examinations (USMLE) as a potential incentive to better match medical nutrition curriculato the modern societal needs.We semi-quantitatively analyzed nutrition-related information of the USMLE Step 1, 2, and 3 Content Descriptiondocuments and two test preparation books, using QRS NVivo 10. The software’s coding comparison query was usedas reliability statistics. We found an adequate amount of nutrition references. However, the content of the referenceswas inadequate in that there was minimal information in regards to chronic diseases and no content related to diseaseprevention. Moreover, there was a lack of specifics in regards to food and nutritional science.We propose a content adjustment to the medical licensing exams to ensure that future physicians are more skilledand comfortable in fulfilling their roles as health care providers and advisors for an increasingly obese patientclientele.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Shaily Patel, Katelynn H Taylor, Kathryn L Berlin, Roy W Geib, Robin Danek, Gabi N Waite

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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