Written by Jamie Qualls, Class of 2017 D.O. / M.P.H. Candidate at Michigan State University.
In a world of uncertainties and confusion about the “best” way to eat, the medical field is doing little to create a clear, consistent message.
Our Plant Based Nutrition Interest Group at Wayne State University School of Medicine was a great success during the 2015/2016 school year, but it doesn’t take the message far enough. Every student that will become a member of the medical field should be exposed to the impact nutrition can have on physical and mental well-being. This is the only way we will be able to best serve our patients as a whole, not neglecting any aspect involved in their care.
That is where we have decided our group of brilliant, dedicated students in the medical field will have the most impact.
We’re currently partnering with plant-based nutrition leaders across the United States to create a complete curriculum outline regarding the evidence-based benefits of plant-based nutrition by system.
Ultimately, this document will allow schools in the medical field (medical, RD, nursing, etc.) to easily incorporate the latest nutrition research into their curriculum.
Who are the unsung heroes putting in the time to complete this groundbreaking document and why are they doing it?
See for yourselves…
Meet our dedicated students/individuals currently working hard to complete our curriculum outline:
Ivana Marchlewicz: “I believe that plant based nutrition is the future! I feel responsible as a public health student to spread the evidence-based research for the best practice and future of healthcare. Also… you can’t ignore statistics!”
Stacy Willner: “I am part of this project because I want to give my future patients the best care possible.”
Jamie Qualls: “I’m on a personal mission to research and understand the causes of chronic diseases plaguing our civilization. My involvement in this guide is helping me acquire a full understanding of the relationship of food and chronic disease so that I can provide my future patients the knowledge, tools, and inspiration to achieve optimum health.”
Amalia Restrepo: “This project is something so monumental for the future of healthcare and I believe it’s important for the world to be informed of the importance of a plant-based diet.”
Dr. Kerrie Saunders, MS, LLP, PhD: “I am thrilled to be involved on an evidence-based preventive nutrition curriculum with this group of inspiring graduate and medical students, dedicated to making the world a better place.”
Ryan Abboud: “As mankind advances, it grows ever more important to heed the call of Mother Earth and make compassionate choices to heal nature and preserve our shared well being. Nature’s abundance of edible flora provide all of the nutrients for optimal health of mind and body.”
Suzie Genyk: “Working with the Curriculum Change Committee means so much to me. We are compiling life-saving information. On a deep personal level, I feel that I have to do this work. My father was a cardiac patient who was told to follow the Atkins diet. After multiple bypass surgeries, a pacemaker and medication, his heart finally gave out.
If I can help give physicians the knowledge that nutrition saves lives, another young daughter does not have to go through the pain of losing her father.”
Helaina Huneault: “After graduating from Kinesiology and Dietetics I realized the power of plant-based nutrition and I went to TrueNorth to complete an internship with Dr. Klaper and Dr. Goldhamer. I have a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle and want to use my knowledge as a plant-based RD to help develop the nutrition curriculum with the help of PBNSG. I am so thankful to have this community in Michigan and together we can help to change the world one plant-based meal at a time (with a side kale salad)!”
Robin Bonomi: “Plant based nutrition holds enormous promise as a method for prevention and cure of many diseases that are far too common in our society. I truly believe that spreading knowledge about diet can help change the future of medicine and subsequently the demographic of the United States.”
Erica Willemsen: “I think it is important to educate people on how plant-based nutrition can benefit mental health and is a better alternative than conventional prescription drug therapy to treat mental health disorders.”
We have the utmost respect and gratitude for our faculty editors:
Dr. Mary Morreale, MD (Psychiatry, WSUSOM): “My involvement with the curriculum originates from my personal interest in a plant-based diet. From the research I have encountered, I believe that this approach to nutrition is the best for patients' health, while also supporting animal welfare and environmental conditions.”
Dr. Michael Levin, MD (former resident, WSUSOM, current Urologic Onncology fellow, Cleveland Clinic): “I am involved in the curriculum committee because while I am able to create change on an individual basis as a physician, leading by example, I hope to affect many more people via this curriculum change.”
A HUGE thank you to the rest of the students/individuals that helped us tackle the first half of this project:
- Naila Kovacevic
- Theresa Gattari
- Brittany Van Houten
- Jason Van Houten
- Angie Sullivan
- Brooke Westbrook
- Patrick Commiskey
Written by Amanda Martin
"So I set out to change our medical school."
One of my favorite things about Paul is his optimism. Truly, to be involved in this kind of work that’s changing paradigms you have to be a visionary and see things how they ought to be rather than how they are.
This is the way he looks at what we’re doing at the medical school:
- So far we have brought speakers to (at least) 500 1st and 2nd year medical students at Wayne State, University of Michigan and Michigan State.
- Of those 500 future doctors, if only 5% of them decided this message is worth sharing with their patients that would make 25 plant-based doctors.
- If we consider they see about 20 patients a day for a total of 240 days a year (and each patient comes about twice a year) that would mean they are caring for a combined 2,400 patients.
- If all of our plant-based doctors carried on this way for 30 years that would mean they would have touched a combined 72,000 lives.
Of course, these numbers are hypothetical and, we hope, an UNDERESTIMATE of how many medical students are taking this message to heart. After all, medical students entered this profession to heal and we have the honor of bringing them a message that can allow them to do exactly that.
The message is clear and simple; ask your patients what they eat before pills and procedures.
This is what we’ve been up to with our “lunch and learns” at the medical schools and we’re up to even more behind the scenes that we can’t wait to share with you soon.
- Amanda Martin
What an amazing day! Sharing Dr. Michael Greger with the medical students by day and the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group by night. It was one of the busiest days I've had of my 2nd year but it was worth every minute.
Do yourself, your family and your patients a favor and check out Greger's new book, "How Not to Die."
I'm only 2 chapters deep in the audiobook and can't get enough!
It’s been a LONG road (and more paperwork than I care to admit) but we are finally approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits for Dr. Greger’s talk on the evening of December 15th.
What are you waiting for? Navigate to our events section and purchase your tickets now…I’ll wait.
In case you’ve never heard of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits I’d like to share with you what an accomplishment and honor this is to be able to offer this for our group.
Each year medical professionals need to acquire a given number of continuing medical education credits (CMEs) to satisfy their license requirements.
This setup is ESSENTIAL in the practice of medicine because we are constantly gaining new knowledge and insight into the progression of disease and how to prevent and treat it. The CMEs are an incentive for medical professionals to continue on their journey of lifelong education in honor of providing the best and most up-to-date care for their patients.
Dr. Greger’s discussion on the evidence-based medicine supporting a plant-based lifestyle is the perfect opportunity to provide education on an exceedingly important topic. Armed with the knowledge gained from this discussion, medical professionals will be able to incorporate aspects of a plant-based lifestyle in each of their unique practices of medicine, and enhance the health of their current and future patients.
So please join us for a PBNSG FIRST on the evening of December 15th.
PBNSG is proud to announce that we have officially been recognized as a new "Interest Group" at Wayne State University. Our thanks go out to the University for this honor, and we are so proud of our plant-based students who worked so hard to make this happen!
An interview after our Lunch and Learn with Amanda and Brittany shows us just how groundbreaking an event of this nature really is. It's so wonderful that we can share in their excitement as we move into a new age of preventative medicine.
On August 13, 2015, some first and second-year medical students at Wayne State University, along with members of Plant Based Nutrition Support Group, held the first of a series of 10 “Lunch and Learns” to educate future doctors on the benefits of a plant-based diet. Thirty interested medical students heard from Dr. Kerrie Saunders about how nutrition plays a vital role in promoting health. PBNSG hopes that these soon-to-be doctors will ask their patients, “What do you eat?” as the first line of defense before prescribing pills and procedures.
Each attendee received a plant-based meal deliciously prepared by Amber Poupore, owner of both The Clean Plate and Cacao Tree restaurants. While enjoying their lunch, PBNSG members Shannon Farrell, Jeremy Glogower, and Paul Chatlin shared their stories of success when they switched to a plant-based diet. After 45 minutes of Q&A, this amazing event of hope concluded. Thanks go out to both Amanda Martin and Brittany Vanhouten, Wayne State University Medical 2nd and 3rd year students and PBNSG members for coordinating this new beginning for the future of health care.
Carrie Bellomy is an Occupational Therapist as well as a doctoral student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Carrie reached out to PBNSG, looking for subjects to interview as part of her course work for a Qualitative Research class. Carrie has been plant-based for a few years and believes this is the path for people to regain health and wellness in this country. Carrie asked for the opportunity to interview some of our group members to gain insight into the challenges and benefits of this lifestyle transition to assist with development of a treatment protocol for high-risk patients. Today we met and assisted Carrie with her research.
We hope we can assist many more students to promote the plant-based message!
Updating medical school curriculum impacts the education of generations of doctors and thus, does not happen overnight, nor did we expect it to. Anything worth doing is worth doing RIGHT, and inevitably that takes some time.
Still, we have been making progress toward our goal of bringing plant-based nutrition to Wayne State University School of Medicine. This past month, Amanda met with the course director for the 2nd year Cardiopathology course, Dr. Shaun Cardozo. It was apparent Dr. Cardozo cares a great deal for his students’ education. He is on board to extend the discussion about plant-based nutrition and its role in cardiovascular disease; furthermore, having trained under Dr. Kim Williams, MD, president of the American College of Cardiology (and outspoken plant-based physician), Dr. Cardozo already incorporates diet while counseling his patients. In addition to being completely supportive of our efforts, he also suggested we poll the faculty and students about their base knowledge of plant-based nutrition so that we might better tailor our education material. So be on the look out for updates on this project as well! Currently, we are designing a survey and will work towards submitting it for IRB approval.
If you have any suggestions on what you think your doctor should know about plant-based nutrition PLEASE email us a question you’d like to incorporate in our survey!
Amanda also had the opportunity to meet with the course directors for the 1st year nutrition course. Unfortunately, this meeting was nothing like the last. Ultimately Ms. Reinhard and Ms. Width agreed to disagree concerning the notion that there is one best path towards optimal health; moving closer to a whole-foods plant-based diet and away from animal products. It was their opinion that the reason there is no consensus on the “best diet” is because there isn’t one best way to eat.
In order to understand the resistance to the published literature on plant-based nutrition it’s important to realize a few things about the way research gets translated into consensus and thus, medical practice. There is currently an emphasis on randomized double-blinded controlled studies as the gold standard for “proof” that a pill works or, in our case, if a diet works. However, this standard is not necessarily appropriate in all disciplines, nutrition being one of them (due to the impossibility of blinding patients to what they eat). Deciphering what evidence is convincing and when the burden of proof has been met for certain fields is a skill that all future physicians absolutely need to learn and is encompassed by the "art of medicine." That is, the research will not always be black and white. In certain situations a physician must look at the quality of the research (even given the shortcomings of a small trial or the trial not being randomized) and decide if it is compelling enough to give their patient the best shot at a healthy life.
Our challenge is, and has been, convincing individuals to take a hard look at the studies and to connect that information to the real life patient results. Only through doing this can you begin to truly understand the impact that is possible with plant-based nutrition. After all, each and every one of us in medicine came to this field with grandiose ideas of helping PEOPLE and curing disease, not merely treating symptoms. Patient-centered medicine ought to be the end goal of any and all treatment considerations, and fortunately for us, plant-based nutrition is wholly concerned with helping patients live their most fulfilling, happiest, and healthiest lives.
There is still much work to be done and we will keep moving forward, setting up meetings with other faculty in other courses. We continue to have the support of the Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education, Dr. Matt Jackson, and are working directly with him to coordinate these meetings. His support in helping us achieve our goals has been instrumental to our successes thus far, and we are so appreciative of his efforts on our behalf.
I am positive that we have the right people at the right time to make magic happen here at Wayne State University School of Medicine. We have the opportunity to lead the charge in plant-based nutrition in medical education, and I am confident in our abilities to make this happen! I can’t think of a better copilot to take this project on with than Amanda, whose persistence and commitment to the cause are contagious.
Watch out world! We are coming for you!
For those searching for hope that a whole foods plant-based lifestyle is gaining ground in the medical community, look no further. This past weekend, May 29th-31st, Brittany and I attended the first of its kind: an International Cardiovascular Nutrition Summit hosted by the president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams. Presenting were Ivy-league educated leaders in their fields promoting the gold standard of disease prevention, plant-based nutrition.
After speaking with a few attendees it became apparent that many of them had not yet transitioned to a whole foods plant-based lifestyle. I must say, I found this to be the most inspiring bit of knowledge I gained. Individuals are now seeking information regarding the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, changing their own lives, and passing on these lessons to their patients. This lifestyle is gaining ground, and it’s doing so quickly.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of all of you…those that are leading by example, unapologetically spreading the message, and arming yourselves, not only with evidence-based-medicine, but also with your own experiences, the latter of which can be far more compelling.
To echo the message of the presenters…it’s about time we start looking to treat the cause of disease rather than the symptoms because our nation’s healthcare system, our Earth, and our bodies can’t handle the status quo any longer.
Here is a list of the presenters if you’d like to get more information:
Dr. William Li (http://www.ted.com/talks/william_li?language=en)
Dr. Kim Williams/Dr. Scott Stoll (http://plantricianproject.org)
Dr. Dean Ornish (http://ornishspectrum.com)
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. (http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/)
Dr. William Roberts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_C._Roberts)
Dr. Michael Greger (http://nutritionfacts.org)
Dr. Terry Mason (http://www.forksoverknives.com/restart-for-health/)
Dr. Joel Kahn (http://www.pbnsg.org/plant-a-question-on-the-dr/)
Dr. Robert Ostfeld (http://www.montefiore.org/cardiacwellnessprogram)
Dr. Columbus Batiste
More information to come! Check back later this month to read about our progress at the medical school.
- Dec 26, 2016 A Literature Review Regarding the Status of Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools Dec 26, 2016
- Jul 10, 2016 Creating a Complete Curriculum of the Evidence-Based Benefits with Plant-Based Nutrition Jul 10, 2016
- Jul 10, 2016 Meet Amanda - Future WFPB Doctor Jul 10, 2016
- Apr 16, 2016 PBNSG: Encouraging Future Doctors to Lunch and Learn Apr 16, 2016
- Dec 18, 2015 A Visit from Dr. Michael Greger Dec 18, 2015
- Nov 16, 2015 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits APPROVED! Nov 16, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 PBNSG Receives "Interest Group" status at Wayne State University! Aug 31, 2015
- Aug 26, 2015 First Plant-Based Lunch and Learn Ever! Aug 26, 2015
- Aug 18, 2015 A new type of health prevention is in our future Aug 18, 2015
- Jul 24, 2015 Plant-Based Student Research Jul 24, 2015
- Jul 24, 2015 Slowly, but surely... Jul 24, 2015
- Jun 8, 2015 The Future is Indeed Bright Jun 8, 2015
- Jun 2, 2015 Brittany meets her hero - Dr. Esselstyn! Jun 2, 2015
- May 5, 2015 Meet Brittany - Future WFPB Doctor May 5, 2015
At the International Cardiovascular Nutrition Summit, Brittany met Caldwell Esselstyn and other plant-based luminaries, including Dr. Kahn!
Brittany and Amanda are on their way to ensuring that their future practice is health care, not disease care and empowering their patients with the prescription to prevent, suspend, and even reverse disease. AMEN.
Learn about Brittany and Amanda's experiences in medical school by reading their column on this website - Flip The preSCRIPTion - boom!
"The only diet that has been shown to REVERSE chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes is a whole foods plant-based diet, and I, a medical student, had never even heard of it before. This was a problem."