The Wellness, Integrative Medicine and Nutrition Certificate of Distinction curriculum provides medical students with innovative, interprofessional, community-based learning opportunities in nutrition and wellness through the framework of culinary medicine, lifestyle medicine and integrative medicine. This includes mentorship, community service, didactics, reflection and scholarly work to enhance students’ awareness and understanding of the social, structural, behavioral and lifestyle determinants of health.  The curriculum emphasizes community engagement of students with projects and activities designed to serve the community at large with an emphasis on rural and urban underserved individuals. Online learning modules and seminars will be led by experts in the field with real-world experience. These same leaders will participate in the mentorship and guidance of students. 

Participating students will benefit from resources and activities from the college's Culinary Medicine Program, which is part of the larger University of Arizona Culinary Medicine Initiative — a university-wide collaboration that includes an extensive network of interprofessional university and community partners throughout the state of Arizona. Furthermore, students will also benefit from close collaborations with the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine (AWCIM). AWCIM will provide curricular support, as well as access to a network of faculty who can serve as didactic instructors and mentors. Due to the breadth covered by this network and the topic areas involved, UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix medical students will be afforded opportunities to personalize their educational pathway by choosing to emphasize one or more areas of the Wellness, Integrative Medicine and Nutrition Certificate of Distinction.  

The aims of this Certificate of Distinction will be to prepare students to be more competitive for residency applications by distinguishing them with the knowledge and skills to successfully utilize lifestyle and nutrition to prevent, treat and sometimes reverse chronic diseases. As part of the Certificate of Distinction, students will be equipped with the tools they need to use diet in the care and prevention of the medical conditions they will treat. These future physicians will also be educated on the impact of food policies on health equity and outcomes. Therefore, learning about the role of food insecurity as a social and structural determinant of health and its impact on patients and communities will be an essential element included in this Certificate of Distinction.  

Additionally, students pursuing the this Certificate of Distinction will expand their knowledge of social and structural determinants, and develop advocacy and leadership skills that will distinguish their residency applications. Participating students will be immersed in a "community learning laboratory," where they will learn about the social, behavioral and lifestyle determinants of health through service-learning projects and activities. A hallmark of the program will be to focus on learning by serving urban underserved and rural communities, as well as tribal communities throughout the state of Arizona. Most of the activities will be interprofessional — including dietetics and other health professional students. Students will learn key concepts as part of interprofessional teams to further their ability to work with other health professionals to facilitate positive lifestyle changes in patients.  

As stated above, this Certificate of Distinction will allow students to personalize their learning experiences. This will include understanding the importance of self-care, so that students can eventually model health and empower their patients with these practices. Students will be exposed to the core elements of both lifestyle medicine and integrative medicine as outlined above to enable them to help their patients live healthier lives.