Medical school offers future physicians the opportunity to learn not only the constructs of health and disease, but also the lifestyle factors (such as nutrition) that contributes to them. The Scholarly Concentration in Nutrition (SCP-Nutr) provides UNC medical students with opportunities to pursue mentored research across the trans-disciplinary spectrum of basic, clinical, epidemiological, and community-based nutrition. The goal of the SCP is to provide students with the scientific basis and practical experience that will facilitate the integration of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health and the prevention or management of chronic diseases. This path is also meant to provide an early introduction to clinical nutrition practice and foster possible qualification as a Physician Nutrition Specialist (PNS) later on if so desired.
The aims of the SCP are:
- Provide an integrated, mentored, elective program that involves didactic and hands-on experience in exploring the roles of nutrition in the prevention and management of specific diseases.
- Tailor each student’s didactic and hands-on experiences to the student’s interests.
- Facilitate translational research activities, critical thinking, and opportunities to integrate new knowledge into concrete clinical and community practice.
Students who wish to participate in the Scholarly Concentration Program in Nutrition at Carolina should submit a 3-4 paragraph personal statement explaining why they are interested in participating in this scholarly concentration. Students will be selected based on interest and demonstrated commitment to better integration of nutrition in practice and research.
Responsibilities of Students and SCP Faculty
There are many possible approaches for students to complete the SCP guided by the faculty. Therefore, students must take primary responsibility for completing the following components some time during the course of their medical training.
- Attend at least 8 seminars or webinars relevant to nutrition and medicine. Students are responsible for documenting the seminars attended. These may include:
- Special SCP seminars coordinated/offered by the SCP faculty
- Seminars in the NORC (Nutrition Obesity Research Center) series (students will be added to the mailing list for NORC)
- Other workshops, seminars or conferences relevant to the nutrition interests of the student. Inter-professional education opportunities are encouraged.
- As an alternative to webinars/seminars, you may complete Health meets Food courseware modules. Completing 3 modules and passing the corresponding quizzes (70% or higher) can replace a seminar/webinar (no limit).
- Attend a class related to nutrition and medicine in lieu of the 8 seminars/webinars. Examples:
- The inter-professional education course offered through the UNC School of Pharmacy: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Managing Diabetes Mellitus (PHCY 608i)
- The Nutri-genomics course offered by the Nutrition department
- A course on culinary medicine
- Complete a research or quality improvement project that can be presented as part of the annual Transition to Residency course in mid-March of the MS4 year. Research can range from:
- Bench-research starting in the summer of MS1
- Secondary data analysis as part of epidemiological research
- Testing a clinical or community-based intervention for chronic disease prevention
- Designing and evaluating an approach to reducing food insecurity
- Develop a case study or problem-based learning exercise and evaluate impact on student learning for potential use in the new curriculum
- Complete a nutrition-focused quality improvement project (this can overlap with your CBLC QI project requirement if permitted)
- UNC SOM is building a Culinary Medicine Program which is another potential area for research. Culinary medicine is a new evidence-based field in medicine that blends the art of food and cooking with science of medicine. Culinary medicine is aimed at helping people reach good personal medical decisions about accessing and eating high-quality meals that help prevent and treat disease and restore well-being. La puma J, Marx RM. ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine. New York: Crown; 2008
- Complete 20 hours of community service with one or more of the food related organizations in Chapel Hill or located where students are completing clinical rotations.
SCP Faculty Responsibilities
- Work with students to narrow their nutrition research focus and identify potential research mentors. If students identify a research mentor on their own, they should check with SCP Nutrition faculty for approval.
- Plan, identify, and communicate about seminar and class opportunities
- Convey information about community service opportunities
- Provide troubleshooting and guidance as needed
Students will present their research on an afternoon in the Transition to Residency course (formerly known as the Capstone course) in mid-March of the MS4 year. Each SCP has its own room, sort of like a national meeting having different rooms. Attendees are the SCP students and their advisors/mentors as well as other students who did not participate in an SCP.