Grant Totaling $1.5 Million Brings Alternative Medicine Collaboration to OHSU Students

07/30/02    Portland, Ore.

Oregon Health & Science University has received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for educational research in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Together with the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and Western States Chiropractic College, OHSU will develop, implement, and evaluate a new four-year curriculum for medical students in complementary and alternative medicine. This knowledge then will extend to other schools at OHSU, as well as physicians and other health professionals in Oregon and the United States.

OHSU is one of 15 medical institutions in the country selected to receive this competitive grant. The success of the grant application is in part due to the outstanding and supportive environment at OHSU and in Portland for such educational research to occur. This educational grant complements the two NIH Centers at OHSU researching alternative therapies in neurological disorders and craniofacial problems.

Edward Keenan, M.D., associate dean of medical education in the OHSU School of Medicine, will serve as the principal investigator. Keenan's experience in creative curricular redesign for the medical school has brought OHSU national recognition for excellence in medical education. This was recently demonstrated by the 100 percent acceptance of this year's graduates into residency programs of their choosing.

Anne Nedrow, M.D., medical director of the integrative medicine program at the OHSU Center for Women's Health, authored the grant and will serve as its program director. In October she will complete a two-year integrative medicine associate fellowship with the University of Arizona, under Andrew Weil, M.D. Nedrow is also an assistant professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics), and obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine.

Nedrow said she feels passionate about physicians being trained to ask, and listen, to their patients regarding what alternative treatments they are using.

"Lack of knowledge and how to access educational resources regarding CAM information has made some health care professionals reluctant to approach these topics with patients. The goal of health care is to help patients reach the highest level of health possible, using the best medicine available, and to assist patients in how to access that care," Nedrow said.

She said it is clear that often the best medicine is helping a patient learn how to take better care of themselves through lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and improved techniques for coping with the stress of everyday life.

"Often providers in other disciplines have had more training in these areas of prevention and wellness than medical doctors," Nedrow said.

Initially, the grant will test medical students and the facultys' knowledge, attitudes and values regarding complementary and alternative medicine. A CAM Task Force comprising faculty from OHSU, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Western States Chiropractic College will determine core objectives. Curriculum will be designed to meet these learning goals. Evaluation of the process of collaboration between the four schools, as well as the success of meeting the objectives will be conducted. A Web site and Web-based course will bring this curriculum to health care professionals throughout the United States through the OHSU School of Medicine's Division of Medical Informatics and Outcomes Research.

Two highlights of the grant will be the development of an integrative case conference and the opportunity to attract nationally recognized experts in CAM to OHSU. This integrative case conference will allow patients' profiles to be presented to experts in the areas of chiropractic, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, conventional medicine, spirituality and mind/body health in a single setting to determine the best care recommendations from the group. The Oregon Distinguished CAM Lectureship Series will bring nationally known speakers to OHSU, providing lectures and educational opportunities for faculty, students and the community.

"We are in a unique environment in Portland due to the wealth of academic expertise in botanicals, traditional Chinese medicine and manual medicine therapies such as chiropractic, osteopathy and massage. This allows us to lead in research and education. It is an exciting place to live for those physicians passionate about integrating the best medicine from all disciplines," Nedrow said.