It’s been about six months since the my co-authors and I published the journal article “Shared Medical Appointments: A Portal for Nutrition and Culinary Education in Primary Care-A Pilot Feasibility Project” in Global Advances in Health and Medicine.This project was spearheaded by former head of the Clinical Nutrition course at Harvard Medical School, and good friend of mine, Dr. Helen Delichatsios. She is a primary care physician based at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital. When I was a third-year medical student, she and I were at a conference learning about shared medical appointments (SMAs, also called group medical visits), when we began talking about how we could create a new type of SMA that utilized cooking classes to teach about healthy lifestyle, treatment and prevention of chronic diseases related to obesity, inactivity and other unhealthy habits.
Definition: Shared Medical Appointments / Group Medical Visits
How the Our Shared Medical Visits with Cooking Classes Work
Patients arrived, got their vital signs taken, then were escorted to a regular conference room and seated around a long table.Each 90-minute visit ran like this:
- They signed a confidentiality agreement and anonymously wrote questions that they had about their condition(s) or how to make healthy changes on an index card.
- Once everyone had arrived, Dr. Delichatsios and either myself or another assistant did an icebreaker activity with the patients.
- There was a short (10-15 minute) lesson on a health issue important to everyone in the room.
- Then, there was a facilitated group discuss/Q&A while I (or another chef) demonstrated how to prepare a simple, inexpensive, healthy dish.
- Everyone was given the recipe and the opportunity to taste the food.
- At the end of the visit, patients were given instructions about their follow-up visits or health care maintenance items that were due. If anyone had an urgent medical concern, Dr. Delichatsios had a short visit with them individually after the group class (this rarely occurred).