Background: The current status of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) education in Korean medical schools is still largely unknown, despite a growing need for a CAM component in medical education. The prevalence, scope, and diversity of CAM courses in Korean medical school education were evaluated.
Design: Participants included academic or curriculum deans and faculty at each of the 41 Korean medical schools. A mail survey was conducted from 2007 to 2010. Replies were received from all 41 schools.
Results: CAM was officially taught at 35 schools (85.4%), and 32 schools (91.4%) provided academic credit for CAM courses. The most common courses were introduction to CAM or integrative medicine (88.6%), traditional Korean medicine (57.1%), homeopathy and naturopathy (31.4%), and acupuncture (28.6%). Educational formats included lectures by professors and lectures and/or demonstrations by practitioners. The value order of core competencies was attitude (40/41), knowledge (32/41), and skill (6/41). Reasons for not initiating a CAM curriculum were a non-evidence-based approach in assessing the efficacy of CAM, insufficiently reliable reference resources, and insufficient time to educate students in CAM.
Conclusions: This survey reveals heterogeneity in the content, format, and requirements among CAM courses at Korean medical schools. Korean medical school students should be instructed in CAM with a more consistent educational approach to help patients who participate in or demand CAM.