Nutrition Support Blog: The Royal Gift
July 11, 2014
In the 16th century, King James I of England wrote a series of guidelines on being a monarch, which he passed down to his son. Eventually published in 3 books as the Basilikon Doron (Royal Gift), the treatise outlined a king’s duties, roles, responsibilities and proper behavior. The guidelines included recommendations on everything from choosing a wife, royal dress and dietary recommendations to management of military matters, and were intended to allow his son to be a more efficient ruler, and then passed down to future generations.
As I mentioned in a recent blog, most of us have to struggle through our professional life without such an instruction book for nutrition support. If you are lucky, you will find a mentor or mentors, and then learn to observe how other professionals teach and interact, and use these observations to hone your own skills.
However, many nutrition professionals do not have a nutrition and metabolism expert at their facility to help challenge them to refine and improve their knowledge base and thought process. When I worked at small community hospitals, I realized that without being able to observe and learn from the “academic fencing-match between experts,” like I observed in graduate school, I was poised for nothing but stagnation. Fortunately, I happened across a resource in medical journals in the form of letters to the editors, that gave me insights into how different experts from around the world “cross-examined” research and review articles, along with the rebuttal from the original authors. I realized that if you were observant and read carefully, the letters to the editors can serve as your intellectual Royal Gift.
Many of the letters and responses I have learned from over the years often contained information just as, or even more valuable, than the original article. Typically, I see more fiery exchanges outside of pure nutrition journals (perhaps because we are a smaller community). I recommend that you seek out these letters, looking to the critical care and medical journals in the months after a nutrition-related article appears.
Here is one recent example I recommend. If you have not read the original review article, I would start with that first:
Nutrition in the acute phase of critical illness. N Engl J Med. 2014 Jun 19;370(25):2449-2451.
I think you will find that correspondence from experts around the world can be a great source for nutrition insights and alternative points of view. You will have to find some other source for instructions on choosing a spouse or fashion guidelines however. :)
“The very first step towards success in any occupation is to become interested in it.”
- William Osler