More and more biomedical schools are teaching elective courses on integrative medicine. As of November 2008, 113 of the nation's 126 medical school have such electives available! These courses are designed to bring to our future doctors information about what types of therapies their future patients are going to be using to improve their health.
Integrative medicine is the practice of combining the best of all of the medical fields (biomedicine, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, etc.) in order to get the best results for a patient with the least amount of intervention.
If acupuncture will help your back pain? Great! If not, maybe another therapy will. Maybe your only answer will be pain medications. However, let's start with something like acupuncture, massage or chiropractic medicine to see if they'll work.
If you've got pneumonia, let's not mess around with herbs (while they CAN work, they're not as effective as antibiotics), let's go straight to antibiotics, get you better, then use acupuncture and Chinese herbs to help your recovery time and address underlying deficiencies that may have predisposed you to illness in the first place.
These electives are not used to teach students HOW to use complimentary therapies, but rather when to refer to the appropriate complimentary medical specialist. Kudos to these medical schools for finally getting it. No one can be the Jack-of-all-trades healer. We WANT practitioners who are experts in their field who communicate with other experts.
It's all about the communication and knowing that there are many ways to help people thrive. We all need to help our patients find the treatments that work best for them.