The course teaches medical students how diet and nutrition play parts in the prevention and treatment of diseases.
What’s for dinner? Twelve second-year PCOM Georgia Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) students recently spent four afternoons cooking up a storm. During one session, they created such dishes as cilantro lime brown rice, Thai style peanut noodles, a chicken fajita bowl, sesame ginger broccoli, mashed sweet potato shooters, roasted asparagus, honey mustard pork tenderloin, savory braised collard greens and shrimp fra diavolo, all under the watchful eye of Chef Budd Cohen.
Two hours later, dinner was served buffet-style with the colorful dishes placed at varying heights on tablecloth-draped tables. Dinner conversation, led by faculty members Joanne Kakaty-Monzo, DO ‘97, clinical associate professor and chair, obstetrics and gynecology, and Dennis Peffley, PhD, JD, assistant professor, physiology and pharmacology, touched on topics such as food history, the chemistry of food, special diets, patient perspectives, farm to table eating and nutritional value.
Based on the “Health Meets Food” course offered by The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, the class was offered for the first time this year for PCOM Georgia students. The primary goal was to teach future physicians about how diet and nutrition play a part in the prevention and treatment of diseases and how to discuss this important topic with their patients.
Tyler Raeford (DO ’21) said, “This elective was really an outstanding piece of my medical school career. It was an opportunity to take some of the basic science and clinical knowledge I gained in first year and begin to integrate it into both clinical medicine and patient education.”
The YMCA education kitchen in Moultrie, Georgia, where meals are prepared daily for more than 350 children, was the setting for the course. Rich Gallagher, CEO and president of the YMCA said, “It was such a pleasure seeing the Pineland Y Teaching Kitchen being used by PCOM to educate students in culinary medicine.”
He added, “As a Y focused on healthy living, we are proud to be able to host a class that will use the skills learned to create a healthier community.”
As part of the course, food was sourced from local farmers including state Rep. Sam Watson who invited the class to his Chill C Farms in Moultrie. While overlooking his tomato crop, Rep. Watson explained the basic economics of farming including supply and demand and how the cost of labor affects pricing. He also discussed drip irrigation, crop cycles and the concept of seed to grocery store.
Student doctor Ashley Thor Tanner (DO ’21), who has a passion for healthy eating, said the culinary medicine course was “the highlight of my medical education thus far.”
“To have this opportunity to not only learn the evidence-based medicine behind the diet/lifestyle change model of health, but also to be able to learn how to educate and counsel patients on how to implement it in very practical ways has been such a huge asset to my clinical education,” she said.
Tulane School of Medicine allows medical schools across the nation to use the curriculum. Cohen, who has 22 years of experience with Culinart, facilitates the summer elective for both Philadelphia and Suwanee students. This year, alumna Susan Dornstein, DO ’96, who focuses on lifestyle medicine in her practice, contributed her expertise to the course as well.
Gallagher said, “Our community and many others in this area will greatly benefit because PCOM now has a presence in South Georgia.”
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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