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February 17, 1999

Medical School Courses in Alternative Medicine

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(7):609-611. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-7-jbk0217

To the Editor: I am appalled at the results of the survey by Dr Wetzel and colleagues1 on courses involving CAM at US medical schools. I suspect that 64% of medical schools are affected by the "political correctness" of the times. It is certainly topical to be "holistic," but I would have hoped that medical schools would have been more resistant to fads and fakirs. Medical treatments are divided into those that are proven safe and efficacious through animal testing, controlled clinical trials, statistical analysis, and published peer review, and those that are not. Those that are not, the so-called alternative medicine therapies, have no reason to be taught in medical school, except in the same context as other quackery, such as the snake oil salesman of not so long ago. Sick and desperate patients do not need to be exposed to "alternatives" that offer false hope and economic disaster that can advertise that "they are taught at major medical schools."

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