Transforming Student and Faculty Training, Patient Care, Employee Wellness, and the Community

The reach of the UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute (SSIHI) impressively spans across students, professionals, staff, and community members with its teaching kitchen program. It deployed a Culinary Medicine elective for students in the UCI School of Medicine for over 180 medical students. Students get hands-on cooking instruction from a chef with a focus on making healthy, delicious, culturally appropriate dishes and helping patients make practical changes to eating and shopping habits. The SSIHI team offers group hands-on cooking sessions for patients and a host of nutrition education programs for the surrounding community with its Lois Eisenberg Teaching Kitchen at the UCI Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Santa Ana. Many of its patients struggle with diet-related chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease. In group medical visits, the teaching kitchen reaches a wide variety of patients and learners  with culturally appropriate recipes. SSIHI researchers have also worked on a project to train health care providers in seven other Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to provide whole person care for the underserved community clinic patients in a manner that can be financially sustainable. The year-long project found patient outcomes improved including hemoglobin A1c, BMI, and pain over the course of the program. The program is expanding its number and reach of teaching kitchens in areas of genomics, precision nutrition, and mental health. 

The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute (SSIHI) at the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences at University of California, Irvine, offers clinical services using a team approach of transdisciplinary providers (MDs, DOs, NDs, LAcs, RDs) for those seeking well-being as well as treatment of chronic conditions using integrative therapies such as acupuncture, natural supplements, nutritional guidance, and mind-body programs.

Snapshot

Key Demographics

Since 2021:

  • 31 medical student learners
  • 4 residents/fellows as junior faculty
  • 12 GI Fellow learners, about 100 UCI employees
  • 14 College of Health Sciences faculty applied for the faculty training to begin in January
Quick Facts

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2 physicians, 3 registered dietitians, 1 chef, 1 health coach, 1 coordinator, 1-2 research collaborators. Recruiting 12-14 new faculty to start training in January.

Built-in kitchen in a university setting

IMPACT

It was great to learn nutrition and the science behind foods and apply them immediately to patient cases. I came in with little cooking experience, so Chef Jess's culinary pearls were absolutely life changing, and everything else from the mindful eating exercises to the nutrition pre-work was so interesting!

Culinary Medicine Elective student