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P03.12. Use of the electronic medical record to teach complementary and alternative medicine: what's the impact?


Although some progress has been made in recent years, training in how to counsel patients effectively on complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) is not widely integrated into undergraduate medical education. Our purpose in this study was to evaluate the impact of a teaching intervention utilizing the electronic medical record (EMR) as a point-of-care learning tool on students’ attitudes and knowledge of CAM and on their self-reported competence in counseling patients on this subject.


Students are oriented to the EMR by the preceptor and provided with a one-hour didactic centered on CAM. This lecture orients students to available CAM modalities; discusses evidence-based medicine and CAM; surveys herbs and supplements with supporting evidence; and finishes with a case-study illustrating how CAM can be brought into a patient encounter, using CAM “smartphrases,” which are essentially premade templates readily accessible in the EMR. These smart-phrases provide a real-time reference for students during their patient encounters. Pre- and post- surveys consisting of nine questions using a likert scale examined changes in students’ attitudes about, and use of CAM. These surveys were given anonymously to our medical students. A group of similar medical students who did not rotate here were also given the same surveys, thus representing a control group.


Among the 27 students in our intervention group, we saw an increase of 48% and 43% in the number of students who felt comfortable counseling patients on fish oil and probiotics, respectively. Among the 38 students in our control group, no significant differences were observed.


Results of this small sample pilot study suggest that CAM lectures plus EHR-based CAM assessments and tools can increase student comfort with counseling on probiotics and fish oil. The fact that this effect was not seen for acupressure and mind-body interventions suggests a different intervention may be needed.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Teets, R., Cohrssen, A., Jennifer, P. et al. P03.12. Use of the electronic medical record to teach complementary and alternative medicine: what's the impact?. BMC Complement Altern Med 12 (Suppl 1), P265 (2012).

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