A new interdisciplinary course, between The University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine and the College of Education (COE), is bringing medical students out of the operating room and into the kitchen to learn about nutrition.

The elective course, Introductory to Culinary Medicine (NUTR 593), is taught by Deborah Cohen, an associate professor in the Nutrition Program in the COE’s Department of Individual, Family and Community Education (IFCE). Culinary medicine is a concept that blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine.

The Culinary Medicine class takes a hands on approach to teaching basic culinary skills to medical students in addition to providing basic and clinical science behind nutrition-related chronic diseases. The curriculum is comprised of four modules including: Introduction to Culinary Medicine; Renal Physiology and Sodium; Fats, and Weight Management. The clinical component will consist of eight hours per week in a UNM-affiliated hospital and an Outpatient Clinic in collaboration with the UNM Dietetic Internship.

Additionally, medical students will be matched with a dietetic intern who will mentor the student in the Nutrition Care Process. The clinical component will allow the student to perform nutrition assessments and diet education with a UNM Dietetic Intern. The lab component will teach students basic culinary skills and nutrition that can be translated to practice. The online modules focus on the basic sciences: physiology, biochemistry and metabolism reinforced with comprehensive assessment tools.

The course was created by Cohen after she heard a story on National Public Radio (NPR) about the success of a similar course taught at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. She thought, ‘We can do this here. All we need is a big kitchen.’ Nationally, Tulane implemented one of the first dedicated teaching kitchens at a medical school. Tulane's program includes medical school education, resident education CME’s for practicing physicians and community nutrition and cooking classes.

The class meets Mondays form 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Johnson Center Foods Lab (rm. 122), and also Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. On Wednesdays & Fridays students will spend four hours at Clinical Rotations.

Registraton for the course is ongoing. It is open to nutrition graduate students and fourth-year medical students.

For more information, email: dcohen02@unm.edu.