In the modern world, advances in medical science have resulted in improved health care for everyone. Even in developing countries, the average life expectancy is still nearly double what it was at the beginning of the 19th century, for example. At the same time, though, the field of medicine has also become increasingly complex, with emerging problems such as obesity or mental health proving challenging to solve with any single approach.
As a health care professional, you probably know how difficult it can be to stay on top of the latest developments within your field. Sometimes, a vital area of knowledge, such as nutrition, needs to be considered when dealing with chronic conditions or patients with lifestyle-related issues. An eating disorder can be influenced by genetics, but also by social factors and a general lack of accurate and updated nutritional information among the lay public.
How can you bring nutrition into greater focus in your practice? Here are three options to consider.
Guide patients towards a better diet
In today’s age of easily accessible information, many patients will do their research first. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of inaccurate sources of data on the internet, and some content published by groups with a vested interest in promoting specific products or lifestyles can be misleading.
Without proper guidance, this often leads to patients following nutrition advice that has no medical basis and may even lead to further harm. As a health care professional, even if nutrition isn’t your expertise, you have the opportunity to steer your patients with general recommendations towards better nutrition, and urge them to consult with experts for further guidance specific to any conditions they may have.
Further your education
Across health care professions, it’s important to consistently further one’s knowledge and skills. However, many professionals tend to become increasingly specialised and focused only within their field of study. Since every discipline continues to evolve with new studies, increase our understanding of the best practices, this can lead to knowledge gaps. Thus, a patient can receive mixed or even contradictory advice from different professionals whose level of familiarity with the latest nutritional research findings may vary greatly across individuals.
One solution at the individual level is to pursue continued inter-disciplinary learning, on top of your speciality. Nutritionists or psychiatrists, for example, can study nutritional therapy training at accredited institutions such as the College of Naturopathic Medicine. This will allow you to apply a holistic approach, combining multiple disciplines to find the best solution for your patient’s health issues.
Collaborate across disciplines
As you might expect, a multidisciplinary approach also works on the organisational level. When several experts work together and share a common understanding of the latest medical findings in nutrition, the outcomes can be greatly improved for your patients.
By expanding the scope of your practice to frequently collaborate with others, who may specialize in fields as varied as family medicine, mental health, pediatrics, dentistry, or bio-information, for example, you’ll integrate their respective competencies into your treatment plans, and stay in sync when it comes to the importance of proper nutrition for your patient.
Best practices for health care are constantly evolving in every field. In many ways, nutrition is a common denominator with considerable influence in all outcomes. Finding ways to focus on the importance of nutrition will improve your practice and patients’ health.