The CAM Education Program of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Overview

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Abstract

Abstract

The authors provide a historical context and overview of the experience of education projects at 14 health professions schools in the United States and the American Medical Students Association that were funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in cohorts of five per year in 2000, 2001, and 2002–2003. These 15 projects were designed to incorporate CAM information into the curricula of conventional health professions schools. A longer-term goal was to accelerate the integration of CAM and conventional medicine.

The overall program started in 2000 at a time when discussions about the definition, goals, and value of integrative medicine were already well underway. The efforts specific to each project, as well as the shared challenges, accomplishments, and collaborative efforts of all 15 projects, can provide guidance for the education of conventional health care providers about CAM in an integrative medicine environment.

Challenging issues that must be faced include (1) the need to develop successful strategies to incorporate information about CAM into already dense health professions school curricula, (2) the need for conventional health professionals to have authoritative resources to provide their patients information about risks and benefits of CAM practices, and (3) the need to identify appropriate roles for CAM practitioners in educating conventional health professionals about CAM therapies. The authors discuss these issues and others and present some recommendations.

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