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More Med Schools Are Teaching Alternative Medicine


Ten years have gone by and $2.5 billion have been done in research, yet it all comes down to scientists, doctors and researchers have really found no cures from alternative medicine. Still, these mostly unproven modalities and treatments are mainstream and used by more than a third of all Americans and more med schools are teaching alternative medicine.

The government has spent more than $22 million to help medical and nursing schools start teaching about alternative medicine. Critics tend to be upset because they feel lesson plans are biased toward unproven remedies. These critics are also upset that more tax money is being spent to train more young doctors to do research in this field, which will launch some of thee bright young doctors into careers as alternative medicine providers.

Doctors need to know about popular remedies so they can discuss them non-judgmentally and give competent advice, the government says, and many universities and medical groups agree. "Patients are using these things" whether doctors think they should or should not, and safety is a big concern, said Dr. Victor Sierpina, an acupuncturist at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Still some critics say it is like teaching “Harry Potter medicine.” Students are being asked to close their eyes to science principles that guide the rest of their training in order to keep an open mind about pseudoscience, they say. Still, it is not stopping med schools from teaching alternative medicine.

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One of the largest and well known schools is The University of Arizona's Center for Integrative Medicine. Currently it has medical residency programs in hospitals around the country and is partly sponsored by well-known advocate Dr. Andrew Weil, the center's founder. The Bravewell Collaborative which is a private group promotes such care and offers scholarships for many of the Arizona school's students to get hands-on training in integrative care clinics.

The University of Minnesota offers medical students an elective course in alternative healing methods at a Hawaiian medical center and students raved about things they had tried firsthand, and said they returned more willing to recommend acupuncture, meditation, yoga, herbal remedies and other nontraditional care.

"Consumers are demanding it" and more research is needed to see what works, said Mary Jo Kreitzer, who directs the Minnesota school's alternative medicine curriculum. "Ultimately we need to align policy" so that insurers pay for these therapies” ,

Georgetown University started the nation's first graduate degree program in complementary and alternative medicine and they strive for objectivity, said the program's director, Hakima Amri. She stated the goal is "to train a new generation of open-minded but critical physicians or scientists."

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth