Why PAs and their Patients Can Benefit from Nutrition Education

Nutrition Outreach Fellowship Provides Training, Resources for PAs

March 28, 2022

By Sarah Blugis

The PA Foundation’s Nutrition Outreach Fellowship provides PAs, especially those with an interest in community leadership, special training and resources to build on their knowledge of nutrition. This helps them to both enhance their clinical practice and to give back to their healthcare peers and communities.

Following their training, members of the 2020 Nutrition Outreach Fellows cohort delivered nutrition education to consumers and healthcare peers over the course of the fellowship year. Two 2020 Fellows reflect on their experience – and talk about why more PAs would benefit from nutrition training and outreach.

[Apply for the 2022 Nutrition Outreach Fellowship]

Camille Paul, MPH, PA-C

Conducting outreach during the pandemic
Camille Paul, MPH, PA-C, works as a primary care PA at an outpatient adult clinic in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. During her time as a Nutrition Outreach Fellow, she worked full time in the U.S. Virgin Islands at a private cardiology practice and part time at a federally qualified health center.

“The pandemic certainly altered my idea of what the fellowship would be like,” Paul says. Rather than completing presentations in person, Paul gave virtual presentations to community groups, the military, coworkers, family, and friends. She also utilized Facebook by announcing her fellowship live during PA Week and encouraged viewers to reach out for more information about nutrition education.

Similarly, Emma Reeve, PA-C, who currently practices in outpatient endocrinology in Phoenix, Arizona, completed most of her education opportunities over Zoom. She worked with local groups to arrange presentations and set up Zoom sessions for patients from her endocrine practice.

Thinking outside the box to reach patients
“My favorite experience was being interviewed by a local radio show here in Phoenix, Arizona, along with my co-Fellow, Sarah Gerber, PA-C,” Reeve says. “We spent about an hour chatting with the hosts about daily nutrition changes anyone can make to improve their health. The show was specifically designed to reach a senior audience. It’s expected we reached over 10,000 people!”

Both Reeve and Paul thought outside the box to conduct their outreach, while also looking for ways to meet patient need. For her part, Paul found that patients at the health center where she worked were in need of dietary counseling after the center lost its only dietitian during the pandemic. So, she stepped in to provide nutrition education visits during her hours at the center.

“After conducting visits, I would perform chart reviews to gauge the patient’s progress,” Paul says. “Seeing positive outcomes in the form of improved glucose readings on labs or reading notes where providers mentioned a noticeable improvement was an achievement for me.”

Emma Reeve, PA-C

The power of nutrition education
Both Paul and Reeve were interested in the Nutrition Outreach Fellowship because they wanted to learn more about sharing nutrition information with patients in order to provide better care. Every PA, they contend, can benefit from more nutrition education, no matter their specialty or practice setting.

“Food is a constant in our lives. It’s a choice potentially for or against our health three or more times a day,” Reeve says. “As providers, there are only so many moments in a day we have to influence someone’s health, so having some nutrition know-how ready to go during office visits can really go far in the long run.”

“Nutrition affects our patient outcomes. It is involved in prevention, treatment, control, preparing for and recovering from procedures, rehabilitation, and more,” Paul explains. “There’s no way around it. You are doing yourself and your patients a service by educating yourself about nutrition.”

The Nutrition Outreach Fellowship, they agree, is a great opportunity for any PA to share with both patients and fellow providers about the ways nutrition influences health outcomes.

“This fellowship will enhance your practice of medicine,” Paul affirms. “It will refocus your mind on prevention using lifestyle changes, which can sometimes be overlooked when trying to help patients heal. I think every PA can benefit from the nutrition education provided through this fellowship.”

The 2022 Nutrition Outreach Fellowship application cycle is currently open, with a deadline of April 15.

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