BACKGROUND - Cleveland Clinic has trained 17 physician nutrition specialists since the establishment of its clinical nutrition fellowship (CNF) in 1994. The paths taken by the graduates and whether they continue to practice clinical nutrition are largely unknown.
METHODS - To investigate the professional outcomes of completing a CNF, a survey of graduates was conducted.
RESULTS - Fifty-seven percent of respondents (n = 8) applied to another fellowship prior to applying to a CNF. The 2 most common reasons for applying to a CNF were to increase knowledge of clinical nutrition and increase the chance of acquiring a gastroenterology fellowship. Eighty-five percent (n = 10) of graduates found the CNF to be valuable. Eighty-six percent (n = 12) went on to complete a gastroenterology fellowship, and 67% (n = 8) of graduates believed that completing a CNF increased their chances of gaining acceptance to a gastroenterology fellowship. Only 42% (n = 6) of the graduates currently hold professions that specifically dictate the use of clinical nutrition, but 61% (n = 8) reported using clinical nutrition in their daily or weekly practice. Fifty percent (n = 7) of graduates believed that completing a CNF made them more competitive job candidates, but only 21% (n = 3) said that their extra training is reflected in their current salary.
CONCLUSIONS - It appears that CNFs are being used as a method of subsequently acquiring a gastroenterology or other medical fellowships. Although not working in defined clinical nutrition professions, >50% of graduates continue to apply their CNF skills after completing their training. A small percentage have found dedicated nutrition-based clinical professions.