Collaborations between Allopathic and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Health Professionals: Four Initiatives

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An effort to increase the understanding of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by health care professionals requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach. Between 2000 and 2002, National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine funded 15 educational institutions to develop curricular models for educating allopathic medical and nursing learners in CAM literacy. Four of these 15 programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine, and University of Washington School of Nursing, formed collaborative partnerships with nearby academic institutions that train CAM practitioners.

This article focuses on these four examples of institutional collaboration, summarizing the challenges faced and the positive outcomes achieved for learners, faculty, and institutions. As collaborations between such institutions increase, future potential directions for consideration include credentialing of CAM practitioners teaching within allopathic health professional institutions, faculty development within existing allopathic health professional schools on incorporating evidence-based CAM content into their standard allopathic education, and viewing CAM as an aspect of cultural sensitivity.

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