FIU faculty presents at Berlin forum


Written by Leslie Ovalle/ Staff Writer

A faculty member from the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work participated in a forum in Berlin, Germany.

Kathryn Brogan Hartlieb, assistant professor within the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, led a workshop based on her research.

She participated in two panels discussing the University’s medicine-oriented curriculum at the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers forum in Germany, an international network of health professionals trained in motivational interviewing, which works as a patient-centered approach that engages motivation within the public.

The goal of MI is to improve the quality and effectiveness of behavior change counseling, according to the forum’s website.

“The idea is to speak in a way that elicits the patient or client’s reasons and motivations for changing a behavior,” said David Brown, who works in collaboration with Hartlieb and serves as chief of the Division of Family Medicine at the University.

“It’s a way of not necessarily telling someone to change, or how to change, but helping guide someone to come up with their own way of change.”

According to Brown and Hartlieb, this medical communication style is novel.

Motivational Interviewing began in the ‘80s in the areas of alcohol and drug abuse counseling and, due to its effectiveness, the practice was transferred into other fields, including medicine, nutrition, criminal justice and social work, said Hartlieb.

“Many clients can be intimidated by a healthcare professional,” said Christian Caballero, a junior majoring in dietetics and nutrition.

“Just talking to them and listening to where the client wants to take the change will make a greater impact.”

The University’s curriculum, discussed by Hartlieb at the MINT forum on Thursday, Oct. 15, includes training in MI during a student’s first and second year of clinical skills courses.

According to Brown, most medical schools’ approach to MI is not as extensive as the University’s. He said that the training is more common in residency training programs and clerkships, which occur much later in the student’s medical career.

“Educational associations have really started to say that MI is one of the communicational skills that students need to learn,” said Hartlieb.

“We are realizing that there is a bit of gap because we would like all of our students to learn and not all the faculty has been trained in [MI] because it was something that maybe wasn’t around when they were in school.”

To combat this gap, Hartlieb and Brett Engle, a member of MINT, works with both students and faculty, training them to become highly skilled in the approach.

“MI is a concept that is not difficult to understand, but it’s also not easy to put into practice consistently,” said Brown.

But the University’s MI training goes beyond the classroom setting.

Students participate in the Green Family Foundation Neighborhood HELP program, a Health Education Learning Program where they work in teams with one to two households from the community’s underserved populations.

The student’s household visits give them hands on experience with MI, which, according to the Green Family Foundation Neighborhood HELP’s website, most medical schools don’t offer until the third year.

Hartlieb’s presence at the MINT 2015 Forum in Berlin is helping lead the discussion on MI, showcasing something that other schools may consider doing, said Brown.

“We are very excited that FIU has put together such a comprehensive program to present to the world as we move forward with it,” said Hartlieb.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

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