Tulane University's School of Medicine has announced a groundbreaking collaboration with Johnson & Wales University. A new program unites doctors and chefs to improve the nation's health through the teaching of culinary medicine, putting chefs in the laboratory and doctors in the kitchen.
Culinary students from Johnson & Wales are teaching Tulane med students how to cook, while the med students teach culinary interns about diet and nutrition.
"These are more complex, clinical things than chefs would normally learn," says Dr. Timothy Harlan, Medical Director for Tulane University's Medical Group, who's also a chef.
He says teaching chefs about evidence-based medicine, diet and nutrition can have a significant impact on the health of America. It's the first time, a medical school and a major culinary institution have worked together to help prevent obesity.
"We're the first medical school that I know of that has hired a full-time chef to be on staff," says Harlan.
"It's about good quality, evidence-based medicine and diet. It mixes actual hands-on cooking...how to cook, with the basic sciences and clinical nutrition to better understand the link between diet and health," Harlan says. "If we can help medical students and physicians, as well as chefs, understand that link better, they can then pass that on to their patients, in the case of physicians, or their patrons in the case of culinarians and we can have a significant impact on the health of America."
Harlan says the program connects the dots between the basic sciences, clinical medicine and what patients and diners are actually putting in their mouths. He says chefs have a social responsibility to change the way they feed their patrons to make sure they're getting great quality, healthy meals.
The program is a fully integrated, comprehensive joint curriculum for doctors, medical students, chefs and the community focused on the significant health role that food choices and nutrition play in preventing and managing obesity and associated diseases in America.
"This is an entirely new approach in the training of both physicians and chefs," said Dr. Benjamin Sachs, senior vice president and dean of Tulane University School of Medicine. "Our goal is to change the way health practitioners think about food and the practice of medicine. With statistics showing that 65 percent of Americans are overweight and a third are obese, it's not enough for doctors to know just the basics of nutrition. They must also learn to translate the science into practical lessons that empower their patients to lead healthier lives."
The initial program, which includes culinary classes for medical students, will be based at Tulane University, with the collaboration's long-term goal to establish others first at JWU's flagship campus in Providence, and in the future at JWU's campuses in North Miami, Denver and Charlotte.
The comprehensive plan is to include seminars, internships, faculty training, curricular offerings, community outreach, research and, ultimately, the development of a master's degree in culinary nutrition at JWU and a rotation in culinary nutrition for Tulane medical students.Several aspects of the collaboration are in place, including:
• Joint faculty seminars for students at both universities
• Internships at Tulane for JWU's culinary nutrition students
• Healthy culinary classes for the New Orleans community involving students from both schools
Johnson & Wales University, founded in 1914, is a nonprofit, private, accredited institution. In 1998, JWU became the first in the nation to offer a bachelor of science degree in Culinary Nutrition. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education of the ADA, has six full-time registered dieticians on faculty, and has produced more than 1,000 alumni.