Culinary Medicine at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at HOFSTRA/Northwell
Leadership and Faculty
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Professions
Dr. Sheridan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Science Education at the Zucker School of Medicine at Northwell Health.
After graduating medical school in Germany, she came to the United States as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working in Psychiatry Research. Most of her research was focused on weight gain and weight management in association with antipsychotic treatment in Children and Adolescents. Several studies included healthy lifestyle guidance as a key component.
Dr. Sheridan has been working at the Zucker School of Medicine for 3 years, first as a PEARLS facilitator and now as a small group facilitator since August of 2018. As part of her role, she facilitates small groups such as physical diagnosis, clinical skills, PEARLS, and communications. Furthermore, she is functioning as a family head for the current MS1, MS2, and MS3 students. Dr. Sheridan has a strong interest in lifestyle medicine, specifically nutrition education of medical students. Therefore, joining the team of clinical faculty that was engaged in integrating nutrition content into the curriculum was very important to her. Together with a few other faculty members she created a nutrition project in the academic year 2018-2019, to analyze the impact of the nutrition session on the second-year medical students’ knowledge and level of comfort in talking to patients about nutrition. Based on faculty and student feedback, the session was completely revised for the academic year 2019/2020, and an additional nutrition session was added to the curriculum.
Thinking more nutrition education was needed during student’s medical education, Dr. Sheridan enthusiastically advocated for bringing the Health Meets Food Culinary Medicine Curriculum to the Zucker School of Medicine in 2019, and has been trying to broaden the use of the Curriculum across all years of medical school since receiving training for Culinary Medicine in March of 2020.
Alice Fornari, Ed.D., R.D.
Associate Dean for Educational Skills Development,
Professor of Science Education, Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention, and Family Medicine
Zucker School of Medicine
Vice President, Faculty Development, Northwell Health
Dr. Fornari is a Professor in Science Education, Occupational Health and Family Medicine. She is an Associate Dean of Educational Skills Development, Zucker SOM (ZSOM) at ZSOM and is the Vice President of Faculty Development for the 23 hospitals of the Northwell Health organization. Her faculty development role at both institutions is designed to align the UME, GME and CPD continuum. Serving in these roles for the past 11 years allows her to bring UME curricular innovations originating at the ZSOM to Northwell GME programs and recruit educators from GME to participate in faculty development and teaching at the Zucker School of Medicine. Most recently she was appointed as a Fellow of the Association of Medical Education of Europe (FAMEE).
Recognizing a need for additional faculty development to align UME and GME education, in 2016 she created and admitted the inaugural cohort to a Masters of Health Professions Education degree program. As Program Director, she supports high level faculty development for faculty who teach in Northwell Health’s GME programs and desire an advanced degree in education. She has developed and implemented longitudinal continuing professional development opportunities for faculty: “Just in Time Teaching TIPS (JITT), “Learning Drives Teaching and Assessment” workshops, an educational research curriculum, “Educational Research Skills Development”, and system-wide “Resident as Teacher” and “Chief Resident” curriculum courses, all of which include interactive didactics and experiential components to assure skill-building is occurring in real-time. Over the years she has participated in oversight of adding nutrition curriculum to medical education, more specifically undergraduate medical education.
Dr. Fornari is co-editor of a manual published by the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE), entitled Active Learning Strategies for Large Group Teaching. This is a web-based manual available to the medical education community that has been very well received nationally and internationally.
An interest in health humanities and reflective practice as a core competency has supported successful implementation of health humanities curriculum across UME, GME, and CME at the SOM and Northwell Health Organization. She is currently co-leading a AAMC/NEGEA Special Interest Group (SIG) on Health Huminites as Teaching and Learning tool.
Dr. Fornari is actively engaged in obtaining external funding and implementing novel programs to transform medical education across the continuum. In 2014, Dr. Fornari was awarded a 2-year grant, Mentoring and Professionalism in Training (MAP-IT), funded by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation that focuses on developing mentoring skills in clinicians to achieve humanistic relationships with trainees, colleagues and ultimately patients across the continuum of medical education. Currently she is preparing a new IAMSE Manual as a co-editor entitled Mentoring Across the Curriculum. Anticipated publication is in 2021.
Dr. Fornari obtained her EdD, Higher Education, College Teaching and Academic Leadership at Columbia University, Teachers College in 2001. Her research interest was focused on curriculum to support ethical decision making for healthcare professionals. Her interest in ethics education has continued and she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Bioethics form Hofstra University in 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition (1974) and master’s degree in Nutrition Education (1979). She has been a Registered Dietitian since 1976 to present.
Michelle Milgrim RD
Michelle Milgrim is a registered dietitian and manager of Employee Wellness at Northwell Health. She leads the system-wide well-being effort to promote and inspire healthy eating, home cooking and active living from our team members to the communities that we serve. Michelle teaches hands-on culinary medicine classes as well as creates recipe demonstration videos and seasonal cookbooks to provide team members and their families with opportunities to make healthier choices through a food-first approach.
Michelle is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as multiple practice groups including: Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition; Food and Culinary Professionals; and Weight Management. She holds a certificate of training in adult weight management, as well as a master’s degree from Columbia University in nutrition and public health. She enjoys sharing her love of cooking and delicious food with others.
Jennifer Rajkumar, MD, FAAFP, FOMA, CCMS, DiplABOM
Medical Director – Culinary Medicine Program
Assistant Professor at the Department of Internal Medicine
Center for Weight Management, Section of Obesity Medicine
Jennifer Rajkumar, MD is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, at the Center for Weight Management at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She completed medical school at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. She completed residency in family medicine at the VCU/Riverside Health System in Newport News, VA. She then worked as a primary care provider before transitioning to non-surgical weight management. Currently Dr. Rajkumar helps oversee residency and medical education in obesity medicine and assists with obesity medicine fellowship training. She also provides patients with tools to achieve a healthier weight through Health Meets Food concepts, supplemented with healthy stress management, sleep hygiene, and physical movement. She has facilitated bringing Health Meets Food Curriculum to medical students since 2020.
Dr. Rajkumar is board certified in Family Medicine, Obesity Medicine, and Culinary Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Obesity Medicine Association.
Culinary Medicine Programming
Medical Student Programming
The culinary medicine elective was a virtual 2-week elective in May 2020 for 16 MS4 students. In addition, two MS4 students took the Culinary Medicine Elective in Dec 2020 / Jan 2021 as a 2-week preceptorship, which included 8 Culinary Medicine Modules and participation in the Community Series as well as an option to get ambulatory clinic experience if desired.
We are planning a face to face traditional 2-week Culinary Medicine elective for MS4 students in September 2021, using 8 Culinary Medicine Modules as well as optional ambulatory clinic experience.
Since September 2020 we have coordinated clinically specific noon conferences (Pediatrics and OBGYN), using selected modules that align with the clinical content of students’ current clerkship rotation. These have been received well by students and clerkship faculty. Based on this feedback we are in the process of extending the offer for clinical specific modules to be used in other clerkships with our MS3 students during the academic year 2021/2022.
Additionally, four Culinary Medicine Modules are being offered to the dietetic interns from Northwell Health in February and March 2021. Due to the pandemic, they will be held with a very modified culinary experience lead by Chef Bruno (Vice President Food Services and Corporate Executive Chef at Northwell Health). This culinary medicine experience for dietetic interns will hopefully be continued in the coming year in close collaboration with the Dietetic Internship Director.
Michelle is offering culinary virtual programming for Northwell teams as a Wellness night. They use Module 1 for employees and their families.
No programming at this time.
Northwell Health employs over 70,000 team members who also live in the communities we serve. In 2021, Northwell Health’s Employee Wellness department launched community programming to our team members and their families. Our first cohort is currently in progress. We seek to encourage participants to do more home cooking as well as improve their nutrition knowledge, eating habits, cooking skills, food safety practices, and planning skills so that they can better take care of themselves and their families.
Internal Team Building
Beginning in 2020, Northwell Health Employee Wellness launched the culinary medicine community program as an innovative virtual team building activity to encourage colleagues to stay connected and communicate together. These live cook-along classes are hosted in a virtual format and facilitated by the Employee Wellness Registered Dietitian. At Northwell, we strive to improve the health and well-being of our team members as well their families. In all sessions, team members are strongly encouraged to participate along with their families. Individual team building classes are scheduled sequentially using the community module to foster a learning environment with expanding nutrition knowledge and culinary skill development with each new session as well as offer an opportunity for teams to request future classes. As of 2021, we have delivered ten classes reaching over 100 team members.
In summary, participating students found the Culinary Medicine elective to be a valuable part of their medical education. The combination of cooking and didactic sessions allowed students to deepen their own fundamental understanding of food and nutrition while providing a creative opportunity for the development of practical skills.
It is difficult to determine the timing of the elective especially with MS4 schedules in between residency interviews, other electives and scheduled required Acting Internships. In addition, coordination with a Chef and kitchen space is an ongoing issue. We have strong RD support and also dietetic interns as a resource.
For the virtual courses we limited the cooking because medical students paid for their own food. For face-to-face classes Northwell Health will pay for the ingredients.