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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000246681.34207.a7
International Medical Education

Natural and Traditional Medicine in Cuba: Lessons For U.S. Medical Education

Appelbaum, Diane RN, FNP, MS; Kligler, Benjamin MD, MPH; Barrett, Bruce MD, PhD; Frenkel, Moshe MD; Guerrera, Mary P. MD; Kondwani, Kofi A. PhD; Lee, Bennett B. MD, MPH; Tattelman, Ellen MD

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Abstract

The Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) Academy of Science has recommended that medical schools incorporate information on CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) into required medical school curricula so that graduates will be able to competently advise their patients in the use of CAM. The report states a need to study models of systems that integrate CAM and allopathic medicine. The authors present Cuba's health care system as one such model and describe how CAM (or natural and traditional medicine) is integrated into all levels of clinical care and medical education in Cuba. The authors examine the Cuban medical school curriculum in which students, residents, and practicing physicians are oriented in the two paradigms of CAM and allopathic medicine. Only health professionals are permitted to practice CAM in Cuba; therefore, Cuba's medical education curriculum incorporates not only teaching about CAM, but it also teaches basic CAM approaches and clinical skills. Both the theory and practice of CAM are integrated into courses throughout the six-year curriculum. Similarities and differences between the U.S. and Cuban approaches to CAM are examined, including issues of access and cost, and levels of acceptance by the medical profession and by the public at large in both countries. The authors conclude that there is potentially much to learn from the Cuban experience to inform U.S. medical educators and institutions in their endeavors to comply with the IOM recommendations and to incorporate CAM into medical school curricula.

© 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges

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