19. April 2022

Food as therapy - nutritional patient care Food as therapy - nutritional patient care

Future doctors and nutritionists learn together at Bonn University Hospital

It is well known: Healthy food promotes healing. Nevertheless, many hospitals pay little attention to nutrition. A nationwide unique teaching project at the University Hospital Bonn (UKB) now aims to bring together medical students in their internship year (PJler) and nutritionists in their master's studies. The goal of the interprofessional training series, which started on April 13: Healthy food - as well as the prescribed medication - is an important therapy factor. Furthermore, nutritional medicine is to become an interprofessional subject at the UKB.

Food as therapy - nutritional patient care
Food as therapy - nutritional patient care - Dr. Bernhard Steinweg, Managing Director Dean of Studies, Dr. Nicola Amarell, Med. Clinic I and Institute of Family Medicine, Verena Stolz (Study Nurse), Dr. Annekristin Hausen, Nutritional Medicine Officer of the University Hospital Bonn, Med. Clinic I, and PD Dr. Martin von Websky from the Surgical Clinic of the UKB. © Universitätsklinikum Bonn (UKB) / K. Wislsperger
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Adequate nutritional medical care can reduce the risk of complications after surgery, promote recovery and contribute to a shorter hospital stay. "In medical school, however, this knowledge comes up too short," complains Dr. Nicola Amarell, a staff member at Medical Clinic I. "The importance of nutrition is typically thought of in patients with obesity or diabetes. In other medical settings, there is less focus on disease-specific diets," Dr. Amarell continues.

To counteract this, a nutrition committee was established at UKB in 2019, starting with the nutritional medicine team in gastroenterology at Medical Clinic I - with the goal of establishing nutritional medicine standards. The nutrition team at UKB ensures that the decisions of the nutrition commission are implemented. A diet kitchen provides critically ill patients with meals tailored to their needs, including freshly prepared high-calorie protein shakes. The next step: an interprofessional training series in which nutritional medicine content is taught to future physicians and nutritionists. The project, funded by the Medical Faculty, is one of a total of nine funded interprofessional teaching projects and is scheduled to run for two years, but will continue beyond that. "The early integration of scientific aspects of nutritional medicine into the training ofPage 2 of 3 physicians is a step toward the long-term improvement of clinical care that has received too little attention to date," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Christian Strassburg, Director of Medical Clinic I at UKB.

Dr. Bernhard Steinweg, Managing Director of the Office of the Dean of Studies, says: "Nowadays, patient care takes place in multiprofessional treatment teams. Therefore, the different professional groups must already be brought together during their training so that they learn with and from each other in an interprofessional setting. Through this funding, we would like to set new accents in interprofessional cooperation at the Bonn site."

The advanced training consists of ten weekly units designed as workshops. To ensure that the entire spectrum of nutritional medicine is covered in terms of content, modules such as nutritional epidemiology, disease-specific forms of nutrition, home parenteral nutrition in chronic intestinal failure and many more are planned. The training is primarily aimed at the PJ students of the Medical Clinic I, the Department of Integrated Oncology and the Department of Surgery. Numerous specialists from the University Hospital Bonn and the Institute of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Bonn have been recruited as lecturers.

Dr. Annekristin Hausen, specialist for internal medicine and gastroenterology, nutritionist as well as project initiator, is convinced that already PJler*innen should concern themselves with the nutrition. "We can achieve an immense amount with the right nutrition that is individually tailored to the patient. The nutritional status of a sick person can determine the complication rate or survival rate in operations or transplants," says the UKB physician. That's why knowledge of nutritional medicine is an integral part of medical school.

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