Chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity are prevalent in modern society, with 60% of American adults suffering from at least one chronic disease and a large portion of that number suffering from two or more. These diseases have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life and mortality and are the focus of millions of dollars in healthcare spending. Often, treatment of these conditions requires significant lifestyle changes on the part of the patient. Without training, it can be challenging for healthcare practitioners to overcome the social, communication, and motivation obstacles ahead of patients in encouraging these lifestyle changes.
To help address that challenge, the University of Utah Family Medicine Residency Program has adopted the Lifestyle Medicine Residency Curriculum (LMRC), a resident-driven educational experience designed to increase residents’ training in chronic disease prevention designed by educational leaders at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. The course focuses on the foundation of health—nutrition, physical activity, sleep, mental well-being, and social connectedness—and builds resident knowledge and skills in addressing patient lifestyle habits.
The LMRC program is driven by residents, providing a unique learning environment with immediate application of gained knowledge and skills. In addition to didactic lectures, the curriculum includes practicum activities and lifestyle medicine focused clinical visits, that when completed by residents earns them the eligibility to sit for board certification in lifestyle medicine. This is an opportunity for residents to graduate in three years and be eligible to be dual board certified in family and lifestyle medicine, gaining the skills they need to be physician leaders in health promotion and disease prevention for our burdened healthcare system.
The program will be implemented through the efforts of Family Medicine assistant professor Kara Frame, MD and two of the third-year residents, Matthew Demarco, MD and Rich Wolferz, MD (above), who formerly served as vice president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Trainees Board.
“I chose family medicine for its focus on prevention with goals to restore and maintain health in my patients” says Dr. Wolferz, “and why I worked with fellow residents and faculty to facilitate the adoption of this curriculum into our residency. I believe the skills our residents will gain from this curriculum will allow us to best support our patients in living out healthier and happier lives.”