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Culinary Medicine

LOCATION:  Animal and Veterinary Farm, Lab Room 7, Stewartstown Road, Morgantown, WV 26506
PRECEPTOR:  Melissa Olfert, DrPH, MS, RDN, LDN  
DURATION: 2 weeks minimum
OFFERED: Blocks 8 & 9
STATUS: Elective


The purpose of this course is to allow applied, hands-on experience in community based participatory research relating to culinary medicine topics. This may include, but is not limited to, preparing healthy meals, utilizing kitchen tools, and discussing behavior change strategies regarding diet with patients. Students may have the opportunity to contribute to various lab projects focusing on healthy behaviors, nutrition knowledge among current and aspiring health professionals, food insecurity, mental health, and more. This elective is designed to engage medical students in lifestyle intervention strategies for chronic disease treatment and prevention across the lifespan, while equipping the students to make changes in their own personal and professional lives. Students will learn valuable knowledge and tools to incorporate into their patient interactions and medical advising , in order to form a broader approach to medical treatment.


  1. Improve the student’s ability to discuss diet with patients and offer advice regarding healthy food choices and preparation of meals.
  2. Develop behavior knowledge on how to make dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent the development and progression of chronic diseases.
  3. Provide students with the knowledge to make meal recommendations that ensure the patients’ success in following the new diet, extending the scope of their conversation with patients to incorporate diet.
  4. Students will improve in culinary skills to prepare healthy meals, with the goal of modeling this behavior into their own lives.
  5. Students will learn the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior and how this can be incorporated into nutritional counseling with patients.
  6. Students will become more familiar with the West Virginia population, allowing a more personalized approach in providing care.

Methods to Achieve Objectives

Classes will be 90 minutes each, consisting of lecture (60 minutes) and discussion (30 minutes).  Lecture will involve a topic followed by each student individually preparing a meal to reinforce the lecture content.  Lecture topics include utilizing kitchen tools and equipment, food selection and safety, using healthy, alternative ingredients, and discussing diet/applying the Transtheoretical model to patient behavior change strategies.  The discussions will involve eating the meal together and discussing how these topics relate to nutritional biochemistry and physiology courses and prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

Examination Procedures and Evaluation Criteria

Students will be required to complete one public-outreach experience in which the student will teach a community member how to prepare a meal.  Students will write about this experience in their blog, detailing the discussion they had with the patient, how they offered advice, and difficulties they encountered with teaching the patient how to prepare the meal.

Pre-Rotation Instructions

Contact Dr. Melissa Olfert, melissa.olfert@mail.wvu.edu  two weeks prior to the rotation start date.