Robert Kushner, MD, MS
- Professor of Medicine
- Clinical Director, Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity (NCCO)
- NMH IM Residency Alumnus, faculty since 1998
- Member of the new Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators (FAME)
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"I am a dog lover and can frequently be seen walking our dogs Cooper and Maggie in the neighborhood or along the hiking trails with my wife Nancy."
What drives you to excel at work and in our field?
The major reason for the increased occurrence of chronic conditions seen over the past 30 years (obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome) is related to our changing lifestyle. We as a medical profession need to be part of the solution by counseling our patients to choose a healthier diet, be more physically active, not smoke, and manage their body weight. Focusing on weight control and healthy behaviors to reduce co-morbidities is both challenging and rewarding.
I chose a specialty niche that is very exciting and newsworthy. We need to find solutions to halt the obesity epidemic, change our health decision defaults to healthier options, and train a professional workforce to effectively counsel patients about weight management, diet, physical activity and behavior change. Over the past 25 years I learned that I have the opportunity to make a difference. I am helping to train medical students for 21st century medicine, spearheading an initiative to develop a certification of physicians competent in obesity medicine, conducting clinical research in pharmacological management of obesity, and directing a team-based lifestyle management program for patient care. I find this work stimulating and rewarding.
Are you involved in any research projects?
I am interested in developing a practical weight management counseling tool for health care providers that is based on identification of the patient’s lifestyle patterns. This is the basis for two previous publications, Dr. Kushner’s Personality Type Diet (St. Martin’s Press, 2003) and Counseling Overweight Adults: The Lifestyle Patterns Approach and ToolKit, (American Dietetic Association, Chicago, IL, 2009).
I am currently looking for volunteers to complete a revised version of the questionnaire which can be found at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DrKushner
What makes a great teacher?
A good teacher requires more than content expertise. A good teacher is passionate about the material and the educational process, and engages in active (supports discussion, asks provocative questions, promotes reflection, challenges beliefs) rather than passive learning (lecturing, delivering information, reading PowerPoint slides). In addition, the style and personality of the teacher (personal stories and anecdotes, moving around the room) plays a large role in the students’ responsiveness. In sum, being a good teacher requires content expertise, passion, innovation and responsiveness.