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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

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318149e411
CAM Education
Abstract

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.

Author Information

Dr. Elder is associate professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.

Dr. Rakel is assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Heitkemper is professor of nursing, University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, Washington.

Dr. Hustedde is project manager, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.

Ms. Harazduk is director, Mind–Body Program, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Dr. Gerik is assistant professor of pediatrics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.

Dr. Haramati is professor, Departments of Physiology & Biophysics and Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Elder, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, K309 Kentucky Clinic, Lexington KY 40536-0284; telephone: (859) 257-9569; fax: (859) 323-6661; e-mail: (welder@email.uky.edu).

© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges