Aussie plant-based doctors spill the beans

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article and made a video, both called ‘A Matter of Trust’, on a systematic review that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This review in a nutshell concluded that doctors accurately assess the risks and benefits of medical treatments, diagnostic tests and screening tests only about 1/3 of the time, and that they’re more likely to overestimate the chance that a treatment or procedure will benefit a patient and underestimate the risk that it will harm the patient. The article was written by researchers at Bond University on the Gold Coast, but it included research conducted on doctor from all over the world.

I did wonder when I read it, though, firstly – does this same scenario apply in Australia, and secondly, if it does, how does this happen? We all know that you need really high marks to get into medical school, so how can it happen that really smart people who undergo a really intensive education can end up making such major errors of judgment?

The first two people I thought of who might be able to help me answer these questions were Dr Malcolm McKay, an experienced GP from Melbourne, and Dr Renae Thomas, a ‘newly-minted’ doctor who graduated from Monash University’s medical school just last year.

Malcolm and Renae generously agreed to answer my questions about medical training and how it affects doctors’ perspectives on health, disease and nutrition.

I’m sure you will enjoy watching this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it!

Here’s what we talked about:

  • The life experiences that caused Malcolm and Renae to realise the impact of lifestyle behaviours, particularly food choices, on health status and disease risk;
  • Their very different experiences at medical school, and why those differences occurred;
  • The lack of training in research interpretation that most medical schools offer doctors, and how that impacts on their treatment choices;
  • The influence of the food industry on the nutrition education that doctors receive – and how little most of them receive in the first place;
  • Hopeful signs of a change in attitude toward nutrition in the medical community, including a growing interest in plant-based nutrition;
  • Renae’s remarkable experience as an intern at TrueNorth Health Center in California, where she witnessed remarkable recoveries from chronic disease through the application of lifestyle modification and water-only fasting, and how this experience compared with her clinical placements in hospitals;
  • Their plans for the future;
  • And so much more!


Connect with Dr Malcolm Mackay:


Connect with Dr Renae Thomas:


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