Lifestyle medicine residency to start at LLU, LLUMC
Richard Spann, MD (left photo), chief executive officer at Community Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists in Port of Spain, Trinidad, will be guest speaker for the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy commencement services on Sunday morning, May 28. Randy Roberts, DMin (right photo), senior pastor, Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists, will be the speaker for the conferring-of-degrees ceremonies for the School of Dentistry at 5:00 p.m. the same day.
Wayne Dysinger, MD, MPH, chair of the department of preventive medicine, will be overseeing a new graduate medical education training program emphasizing lifestyle medicine at Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The program is the only one in the nation to combine preventive medicine and family practice medicine in a focus on lifestyle medicine to treat chronic disease and to receive approval from both the preventive medicine and family practice medicine boards.
The Loma Linda University lifestyle medicine residency program in family and preventive medicine came about largely due to student interest in lifestyle medicine, which has been growing.
“This has developed as much as anything because of student involvement,” says Dr. Dysinger. The initial conversation about the program happened in January 2005.
The time since then was spent getting internal approvals and creating a proposal showing the details of the program.
“Everyone at the University has been very supportive of the program,” remarks Dr. Dysinger. “Daniel Giang, MD, director of graduate medical education, has been especially supportive.” Dr. Dysinger received board approvals for the program in January 2006 for the four-year program.
Fifteen students interviewed for the two available slots.
“The exciting thing is now we’ve got the match back and it confirms all the work we’ve done,” says Dr. Dysinger. “We’re excited about the quality of our students.”
Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center were begun on the basis of maximizing health using the natural principals of wellness and healing developed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One hundred years later there continues to be a focus around the mission statement “to make man whole” and the principles of health, healing, wholeness, and holiness remain central.
During the 100 years that have elapsed since the founding of LLU and LLUMC, health and disease in the United States and to a large extent around the world have evolved from an acute illness to a chronic disease phenomenon. Medical education was developed around the acute illness model. Only now are new ways being identified in which to adequately train physicians to care for chronic disease.
The current health care system relies on medical school and graduate medical education (GME) residency training in preparation for board eligibility and licensure to practice medicine. A significant number of medical students specifically seek a “lifestyle medicine” focus in their graduate medical education training. Neither primary care (internal medicine and family practice) nor preventive medicine residencies fully provide this.
The new lifestyle medicine residency training program is built on three primary pillars: 1) Lifestyle medicine health principles include the effects of nutrition, exercise, stress, and spirituality on health. 2) Chronic disease care includes an outpatient, community focused, technology intensive, supportive environment for maximizing health. 3) Family practice and preventive medicine residency training leads to dual board eligibility and a master’s in public health degree.
The total length of the training is four years, with the first year involving primarily inpatient education, gradually transitioning to predominantly outpatient education by the fourth year. Main sites for the training program will be the family practice residency clinic, the Center for Health Promotion, and SACHS.
“We are focused on chronic disease care,” states Dr. Dysinger. “The reality is that most physicians who treat outpatients are seeing primarily chronic disease instead of acute disease. We felt there is a national need for this training. Here at Loma Linda, there are several faculty already double certified in family and preventive medicine. Loma Linda has more resources than the average medical school for this type of program. Already we are seeing interest from other schools, such as UCLA and the University of Colorado, about the expansion of this program. This just emphasizes that Loma Linda is leading the country in this area and people are taking notice.”
In June 2010, the first two participants will finish the program and be board eligible in both family medicine and preventive medicine, and will have completed a master’s in public health degree.
“We expect to do research on chronic diseases and how lifestyle medicine can treat those diseases,” says Dr. Dysinger. An editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s February 15 issue on obesity noted that few studies have directly compared medication with lifestyle intervention for chronic disease. Research done through this program will fill a gap to help physicians find ways to treat chronic disease.
By Preston Clarke Smith