AMSA Develops CAM Curriculum for U.S. Medical Schools

By Jacqueline L. Jones

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Foundation has just ended a pilot study designed to develop a curriculum for including complementary/ alternative medicine (CAM) training in MD and DO programs nationwide. The study, conducted at six medical schools, was financed with a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Details about the study as well as the resulting curriculum are available on the AMSA website.

Previously, alternative/complementary medicine courses were electives.

The resulting report, titled Report on Educational Development for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (EDCAM), said:

Medicine today is experiencing a paradigm shift that involves the blending of two disparate philosophies of health and disease, the biomedical or scientific reductionist view and the clinical, experiential holistic view. While the biomedical model reduces disease to a disturbance in biochemical processes and relies heavily on the “curative model” of care, holistic medicine derives from a “healing model,” which emphasizes the complex interplay between multiple factors: biochemical, environmental, psychological, and spiritual. . . .

Because of the widespread use of CAM by patients, and the growing scientific evidence that certain CAM therapies are more effective than orthodox alternatives, CAM education must be integrated into medical education in allopathic and osteopathic schools in the near future.

Although the study has concluded, the AMSA Foundation will continue its summer CAM Leadership Training Program, which introduces information about CAM to 20 students each summer, said Caitlin Phelps, Project Manager. Participants return to their schools to educate fellow students and administrators about CAM and sometimes help initiate plans to incorporate CAM practices into the curriculum of their schools.

According to Phelps, this fall The Journal of Academic Medicine plans to devote an entire issue to the findings of the EDCAM study.

Schools involved in the study were:

  • University of Connecticut School of Medicine
  • University of Massachusetts School of Medicine
  • University of California at Irvine School of Medicine
  • Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine

While this study was under way, NIH also funded similar initiatives for medical education programs at the following schools and hospitals:

  • Children’s Hospital (Boston)
  • Georgetown University
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Oregon Health & Sciences University
  • Tufts University Boston
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • University of Washington

Additionally, nursing programs at Rush University Medical Center and the University of Minnesota received funding to study the same topic.

Fatima Hyder edited this post.

4 Responses to “AMSA Develops CAM Curriculum for U.S. Medical Schools”

  1. Connie Says:

    It’s about time! This is what we all need especially in preventative health.

  2. Jacqueline L. Jones Says:

    Amen to that! Bastyr University deserves a lot of the credit for this breakthrough. They have a very good working relationship with NIH. While many alternative practitioners became combative toward the medical profession because of its resistance to alternative practices, Bastyr learned how to speak its language through research. If I had the time, energy and money, I would pursue a Master of Science in Nutrition from there for the strength of the curriculum and the wealth of contacts.

  3. prakruti Says:

    A good and excellent step to recognise complementary medicines.

  4. Andy Says:

    Oh, and did not know about it. Thanks for the information …

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