Academic Medicine

Skip Navigation LinksHome > October 2007 - Volume 82 - Issue 10 > Using Complementary and Alternative Medicine Curricular Elem...
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318149e411
CAM Education

Using Complementary and Alternative Medicine Curricular Elements to Foster Medical Student Self-Awareness

Elder, Willam PhD; Rakel, David MD; Heitkemper, Margaret RN, PhD; Hustedde, Carol PhD; Harazduk, Nancy MEd, MSW; Gerik, Susie MD; Haramati, Aviad PhD

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Purpose: To determine the value that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)-funded Education Project leaders placed on self-awareness objectives among their curricular activities, to identify projects' rationales for inclusion of self-awareness activities, and to describe curricular elements used to teach self-awareness.

Method: A survey was distributed to the NCCAM Education Project grantees in October 2006. Survey items sought to identify project directors' perceived importance of self-awareness activities in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) curricula, rationales for inclusion of self-awareness activities, and activities to foster self-awareness. Invited reports described in more depth the specific activities in three of the projects.

Results: Fourteen of 15 reporting NCCAM educational projects rated activities to promote self-awareness as highly or very highly valued components, and all projects incorporated numerous strategies to enhance self-awareness. Learning objectives ranged from basic knowledge about mind–body relationships and psychoneuroimmunology, to evidence and indications for mind–body interventions, to training in self-application, to training for intervention with patients. Specific strategies that increase students' self-awareness included evidence-based CAM activities to help students recognize personal biases that may impair critical thinking; personal health experiences to expand definition of health beliefs; and mind–body medicine skills groups to personally integrate the use of mind–body techniques for wellness and stress management.

Conclusions: Incorporating some of these CAM curricular activities, didactically or experientially, may be a unique way to foster student self-awareness and personal growth.

© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges


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