Introduction to Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Health Care

The complete course, including additional assignments and tests, is listed as PMED 250, HBHE 960, and NURS 703i --Principles and Practices of Alternative and Complementary Medicine


Faculty Director: Susan Gaylord, PhD (
Faculty Co-Director: Doug Mann, MD (
Course Coordinator: Pamela Phillips ( 966-8586

Purpose of Course: This course is designed to introduce medical students, other health professions students, faculty, health practitioners, and researchers to the philosophies, practitioners, techniques, and evidence of efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapeutics currently in use in the United States, including chiropractic, dietary, mind-body medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, healing touch and energy therapies, prayer, and herbal therapies.
A large and growing percentage of Americans use one or more of a wide range of complementary, alternative or unconventional healing therapies, often in addition to seeking advice from physicians. Increasingly, research is showing efficacy for many of these therapies. Ability to understand and communicate effectively with patients and other care providers about these therapies should enhance patients’ health and safety and optimize health care.

Course Objectives: As a result of the course, learners should be able to:

  • Describe the use of CAM therapies in the United States;
  • Describe healing paradigms and rationales for patients' use of these therapies;
  • Describe the philosophies, theoretical basis and techniques of various CAM therapies;
  • Discuss the training and certification of practitioners of these therapies;
  • Discuss uses of each therapy and evidence of efficacy; and
  • Describe the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to communicate effectively with practitioners and users of CAM and conventional therapies.

Format: The course provides an introduction to the field of CAM and integrative health-care, including a wide range of alternative modalities, in lecture-and-discussion format, presented by an active practitioner of the therapy and/or a person knowledgeable in the field, with patient presentations, demonstrations and audience participation where applicable. Presentations cover diagnostic methods, treatment, evidence of efficacy and safety for various conditions, training of practitioners, the practitioner-patient relationship, patient satisfaction, role of prevention, and potential for interactions with conventional healthcare. Topical readings supplement lectures and demonstrations.

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