National surveys show approximately one third of Americans use some form of complementary alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is a heterogeneous group of therapies with different histories, philosophies, and purported mechanisms of action. Some show promise for effectiveness, others do not, and for many we do not have sufficient studies yet to know. Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of CAM users do not discuss their use with their health care provider. It is critical therefore that health care students and professionals learn four main skills: (1) Engage patients in dialogue about CAM use with patients, understanding what they use and why. (2) Access and interpret the scientific research on CAM therapies. (3) Counsel patients with sound evidence-based advice regarding the responsible use or avoidance of CAM therapies. (4) Communicate with each other, especially between conventional and complementary practitioners, about the care of mutual patients. To teach these skills, the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities offers a variety of educational activities across the spectrum of medical training for both conventional and complementary practitioners.
Throughout the Boston University Medical School’s academic year our faculty is involved in lecturing to the medical students on various integrative medicine topics (learn more).
Integrative medicine is woven into the three years of our family medicine residency (learn more).