North Carolina AHEC Program
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Teaching Physicians Applauded for Quality CME and Learn About Food as Medicine
Southern Regional AHEC CME Program Recognized for Reaccreditation with Commendation
It was Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who advised, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” That same emphasis on food as medicine was strategically weaved throughout the evening at a recent gathering of teaching physicians at Southern Regional Area Health Education Center (SR-AHEC), recognizing excellence in continuing medical education (CME).
To re-introduce the idea of using healthy food as a way to treat illness, these doctors were greeted at the meeting with an abundance of fresh summer produce: a table overflowing with full heads of green romaine lettuce, deep purple eggplant, and foot-long ribbed English cucumbers. Underneath the table were boxes stuffed with cantaloupes and other seasonal fruit.
Standing by the display that was donated by locally-owned Backyard Produce was Deanna Wung (photo above), a UNC-Chapel Hill pharmacy student, currently conducting a food as medicine project during her rotation at Southern Regional AHEC. The mission of her project, The SR-AHEC Farmacy, is to promote access to and consumption of healthy food by the SR-AHEC staff, patients, and the community through nutrition education and a demonstration garden. Her goal is to inspire the health care community to emphasize food as the first line of prevention for chronic disease and as an integral part of patient care. With the focus on healthy eating, the dinner served to the doctors was prepared using herbs and spices grown in Southern Regional AHEC’s kitchen garden. Tables for the event were adorned with natural décor to include the leafy romaine, cantaloupe and a pail of wildflowers (photo below).
Cape Fear Valley Medical Center Senior Medical Advisor Eugene Wright, MD, shared the Triple Aim philosophy with the audience, saying that the educational partnership forged between the hospital and Southern Regional AHEC has helped to demonstrate the link between the increase of physician participation in the regularly scheduled series of CME and the improvement in patient care. The goals of the Triple Aim are to:
- Improve the patient experience of care, specifically, quality and satisfaction
- Improve the health of a population
- Reduce the per capita cost of health care
“Those of you who engage your colleagues through evidence based presentations, discussion and dialogue, facilitated through CME, move the needle of care closer to those goals of the Triple AIM,” Wright told the audience of CME instructors and health care educators.
Keynote speaker Harry Gallis, MD, staff consultant for the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), awarded Southern Regional AHEC’s CME program accreditation with commendation for a six year term. He presented a certificate by the NCMS through its medical education committee. Gallis noted that only 20 percent of the applications receive commendation status; and the surveyors recognized the depth and breadth of the involvement of the SR-AHEC CME group in the planning, implementation and evaluation of activities for physicians in the region.
Photo above(left to right): Eugene Wright, MD, SR-AHEC President/CEO Deborah Teasley, PhD, FACHE, and Harry Gallis, MD.
One of the most important measurements by the NCMS in examining the application for reaccreditation, according to Gallis, was how involved the CME program is in citing its community needs assessments and outcomes at the local level. “You can’t get more local than this,” he said, commenting on the local physician involvement and the inclusion of many regional organizations/hospitals in emphasizing the evening’s food as medicine theme.
Photo right: Gallis presents the certificate from the NCMS to Jennifer Borton, Southern Regional AHEC’s administrator for CME.
As guests departed the evening meeting, they were given a paper bag to fill with the fresh produce. It was one more measurement on how to conduct a successful CME series - that is to give physicians the opportunity to implement what they’ve learned. “By taking the food home, the idea of food as medicine might get them thinking about how they can implement good nutrition, using food as medicine, as another tool available in treating their patients,” said SR-AHEC CME Director Karen Goble.