Founding osteopathic institution first of its kind to receive CAM award

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (Nov. 14, 2006) – A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) recently received a four-year grant award totaling $756,000 from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH-NCCAM). ATSU is one of only two institutions nationwide to receive this grant in 2006, and KCOM is the only osteopathic medical college ever to receive this award. 

The CAM Practitioner Research Education Project grant will focus on training osteopathic medical students, faculty, interns and residents, and practicing physicians in evidence-based medicine (EBM) concepts. The project is led by principal investigator, Stephen Laird, D.O., MHPE, FACOS, associate dean for academic affairs, and co-investigators, Jeffrey Suzewits, D.O., MPH, associate dean for clinical educational affairs, and William Sexton, Ph.D., professor of physiology. The project period is September 30, 2006, through August 31, 2010.

Dr. Laird explained that evidence-based medicine is commonly defined as the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. The integration of these three elements enables physicians and patients to form a diagnostic and therapeutic alliance, which optimizes clinical outcomes and quality of life. Under the grant, ATSU-KCOM will seek to increase the quality and quantity of EBM tools that support critical scientific thinking and self-directed lifelong learning. The grant will support training for more than 90 faculty members and more than 900 osteopathic medical students, interns and residents, and practicing physicians, as well as clinical research experiences.    

ATSU-KCOM will work with Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, which will serve as the research-intensive partnering institution, and its team of EBM experts, including Alan Adelman, M.D., MS, professor and vice chair for academic affairs and research, and John George, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for educational affairs, both of the family medicine and community medicine department; Thomas Lloyd, Ph.D., professor of health evaluation sciences, obstetrics and gynecology, and pharmacology; and Glenda Shoop, MEd, RRT, RPFT, director of curriculum development and evaluation.

The project was developed based on a comprehensive analysis of both the national and local environments. Locally, a need exists to expand the teaching of EBM principles and concepts related to clinical practice and research/scholarly activities. Leading national educational organizations have emphasized the need to expand medical education to include EBM and continuous quality improvement. Under the leadership of Philip Slocum, D.O., FCCP, FACOI, FCCM, vice president for medical affairs and dean, ATSU-KCOM plans to advance a new osteopathic medical school curriculum, which will include a major emphasis on EBM.

Training methods will include learner-centered activities, clinical skill-building via small-groups, EBM and CAM literature searches and reviews, asynchronous modules, chart audits, clinical practice guideline development, and mentored research experiences. Students and practitioners will be trained to form effective clinical questions; identify best evidence, develop critical thinking and appraisal skills, and conduct effective literature searches; apply EBM to clinical practice; and complete sample chart reviews. Secondary emphasis will be on biostatistics, clinical trial research design and skills, scientific communication, and osteopathic research competencies. 

This project was made possible by Grant Number 1 R25 AT003579-01 to A.T. Still University from the NIH-NCCAM.