CULVER CITY, Calif. — In one kitchen in Culver City, medical students are trading in their textbooks for a hands-on approach to learning more about nutrition in relation to patient care. AJ Schuster is a second-year UCLA Medical School Student.
“With kids you never know what they’re going to like and if you can get a kid to like something that’s healthy? It’s always a win,” said Schuster.
Medical school students like Schuster are helping Venice Family Clinic’s patients through the Teaching Kitchen program that helps patients and future doctors learn how to make healthier food choices at home.
The program also, helps future doctors understand how nutritious foods like avocados that have good fats, fresh fruits, and veggies can provide for someone’s health down the line.
“With medical school there’s a lot of coursework. A lot of studying and not a lot of time with patients. And what’s really cool about this is that I get to have a break from everything. I’m learning and taking a chance to really apply it and use it with the patients and be able to help even before I have my degree and my license,” Schuster said.
Schuster worked with Brianna Valderrama and taught her how to make sweet and savory at-home snacks with simple ingredients like tortillas, fresh fruits, cream cheese and for the savory side, shredded carrots, avocados, and other veggies.
“It’s important to you because for you to be healthy and you don’t get sick often,” Valderrama said.
Nutrition isn’t a major part of a medical school students’ curriculum and by learning what’s accessible for patients at or below the poverty line — like most of Venice Family Clinic’s patients — the program hopes to bring a deeper understanding for future doctors like Schuster about the challenges patients face.
“With a lot of the providers and the students that are coming in here today, the benefit is that they’re really learning what it means when you’re referring a patient for health education or referring them to healthy eating,” Rigo Garcia with Venice Family Clinic said.
It’s an experience Schuster couldn’t be happier to share.
“Hopefully, it’s a way that we can share with each other and take something home to the people that are important to us,” Schuster said.
For Schuster it’s a new perspective on what limitations patients might have and how medical students can be better doctors when a patient needs guidance.