The Culinary Medicine Program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) School of Medicine

 


Leadership and Faculty

Amy Robinson, MD

Associate Professor, General Internal Medicine

Dr. Amy Robinson practices ambulatory medicine, is board certified in family medicine, and is employed by the UNM Division of General Internal Medicine. After serving over 20 years as a primary care provider in the Albuquerque community in several clinical settings, she returned to UNM as faculty in October, 2012. Before returning to UNM, she also served in the Indian Health Service (IHS) in Albuquerque and worked with Presbyterian Medical Group for 5 years.

Dr. Robinson is involved in teaching medical students as a facilitator for several curricular blocks and as the West House Learning Communities mentor. Her main scholarly interest relates to nutrition education. She administers the Phase III (4th year medical student) elective in Culinary Medicine, now offered as a fully virtual learning experience.

Dr. Robinson additionally cares for patients at the UNM Lobo Care Clinic which serves UNM Employees and their dependents in an episodic care forum. Furthermore, the clinic provides primary care to residents and fellows, and their dependents. Her care model involves a hybrid of primary and acute care services as well as preventive and integrative approaches to health and well-being.

Dr. Robinson completed medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (1991) and trained in Family Practice at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque (1994). She is an integrative medicine fellow in the Fall 2021 cohort of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, through the University of Arizona.  Email: [email protected]


Culinary Medicine Programming

Medical Student Programming

The Culinary Medicine course is offered to fourth-year medical students at UNM as well as visiting students from other institutions through the AAMC’s Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) as an elective in both the Fall and Spring. Students complete the following Health meets Food modules: kitchen safety, modules 1-8 and 16, and 1 to 2 self-selected modules. Students complete quizzes provided by Health meets Food for the required modules, however, this is simply for learning purposes, and performance is not monitored. For the optional modules, students are not required to take quizzes, but they prepare a summary to present to the rest of the group. As a final assignment, students pick one topic of interest and give a brief presentation to their cohort. Examples of previous topics include from the benefits/detriments of caffeine, intermittent fasting, the ketogenic diet, pediatrics diets, and decolonizing diet.

Programming has traditionally been in person, but in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the course transitioned to a virtual platform in March 2020 in which students could participate over Zoom and cook from their homes. During this transition, 3 UNM medical students and 6 visiting students participated in each block. Moving forward, the team has experienced unprecedented demand to participate in the elective, with upwards of 90 applications for a maximum of 20 students. The Fall 2021 cohort will exceed this cap, at 27 students, to attempt to meet the exceedingly high demand. The UNM team notes that there is increasing demand from senior level medical students because still too few institutions offer Culinary Medicine programming, and more senior students realize they are missing skills that they could use for their own well-being and in conversations with patients.

Residency Programming

No programming at this time.

Fellowship Programming

No programming at this time.

 


Challenges

It has been challenging to integrate Culinary Medicine education in the pre-clinical curriculum. Faculty support has also been a challenge. Dr. Robinson is currently the only faculty member on the team. Their goal is to find another faculty mentor to meet the growing demand for the course.

One of the founding members of the Culinary Medicine program, who served as a liaison between the medical school and UNM Nutrition Program, recently left UNM. In the past, nutrition graduate students participated in the elective with fourth-year medical students, providing an interprofessional dimension to the program. However, nutrition students are no longer part of the elective. One nutrition graduate student is currently studying outcomes of the medical student elective, and the team hopes to reconnect with the nutrition program in the coming years.