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J Int Assoc Med Sci Educ. 2010 Jan 1;20(2):48-55.

Using Basic Science to Develop an Innovative Program in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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1
Department of Physiology and Biophysics Georgetown University School of Medicine 3900 Reservoir Road NW Washington, DC 20007, USA.

Abstract

The growing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and the increasing incorporation of its modalities in the United States' healthcare system have exposed a number of problems in the field. These include a shortage of qualified CAM providers, scarcity of evidence-based research, lack of trained scientists in the field, and the ubiquitous marketing of frequently uncontrolled CAM products. Thus, the development of a comprehensive and scientifically sound educational infrastructure has become a crucial initial step in redirecting these adverse trends.With support from the NIH-sponsored curricular CAM initiative, faculty from the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University developed a M.S. program in CAM in 2003. This unique, first of its kind, science-based graduate program offers a master's degree (MS) in physiology with an emphasis on CAM. The CAM-MS degree in physiology is designed to enable students to critically assess various CAM modalities, apply scientific rigor, and carry out evidence-based CAM research. The curriculum includes core science courses and CAM-related classes. Additionally, in order to emphasize the application of academic knowledge and further strengthen problem-solving skills, the students complete an eight-week summer practicum in a professional CAM-related environment.Here, we report on our innovative and interdisciplinary CAM graduate program where creative teaching is implemented by basic scientists and enhanced by the application of their disciplines in tandem with the clinical expertise of CAM practitioners in the community. Thus, the faculty in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics is developing emerging cross disciplinary areas of study and interest in order to prepare new generations of future physicians, health professionals, educators, and researchers capable of objectively assessing the safety and efficacy of various CAM modalities, and introducing scientific rigor to much needed research into the various aspects of CAM therapies.

PMID:
21243105
PMCID:
PMC3019605

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