What is the significance of a physician shortage in nutrition medicine?

Stephen A. McClave, Jeffrey I. Mechanick, Bruce Bistrian, Toby Graham, Refaat Hegazi, Gordon L. Jensen, Robert F. Kushner, Russell Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The practice of clinical nutrition is distributed across a wide spectrum of medical and surgical specialties. As a result, silos of nutrition activity tend to exist in isolation. Coincident with this process is a progressive shortage of physicians practicing nutrition medicine. Not surprisingly, physician membership in leading professional nutrition societies has been decreasing over the past 10 to 20 years. The number of physicians in the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition in 2009 was barely one-third the number seen in 1990 (now <13% of the total membership). While The Obesity Society saw phenomenal growth this decade by more than 1,000 members (a nearly 70% increase), the number of physician members actually decreased by more than 100 (a 20% reduction in between the total membership). Two years ago, the number of physicians in the American Society for Nutrition fell to a range of between 100 to 150 members. The number of physicians sitting for board examinations in nutrition also decreased, such that over the past 4 years, only between 27 and 31 physicians have sat for 1 of 3 exams in clinical nutrition. This summit was convened to address the myriad issues that face the physician nutritionist and contribute to this shortage-issues related to education, board certification, research, and practice management. To correct this problem, and ultimately increase the number of physicians in the field of nutrition, Summit participants were charged with developing short term and long-term strategies with specific recommendations for change. A consortium or council for collaboration among professional nutrition and medical/surgical societies is needed to pursue these initiatives and foster ongoing communication among vested parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7S-20S
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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