CAM Education

How to learn from CAM practitioners

Dr. Janine Blackman is a family physician and co-founder of The Gilbert Clinic, a private integrative health care practice in the Washington, DC area.

In a Medscape article she writes, “For experienced family physicians who are not able to commit the time to an academic program, learning about CAM can be challenging.”

Here’s what she suggests.

Aside from reading and learning from patients, she advises to learn from CAM practitioners.


Start with practitioners recommended by your patients. “When you initiate contact and introduce yourself, understand that many CAM practitioners are apprehensive of medical doctors.”

She cautions, “Their natural instincts will be to assume you are calling to complain or criticize… Put them at ease by explaining that you got their name from a patient … who was pleased with their care. Expressing sincere interest in learning about what they do is another good way to break the ice.”

As you get to know CAM practitioners, “Ask about their education, licensing, scope of practice, and how long they have practiced? Well-trained CAM practitioners should be happy to tell you about their education, including where and how long they trained.”

The final integrative step.

“Once you have identified some credible CAM practitioners in your area, consider becoming a patient under their care.”

The bottom line?
The article reveals more about the ignorance of allopaths than anything else. Dr. Blackman assumes allopaths have no social skills … “introduce yourself,” “explain how you got their name,” “express sincere interest.”


Do you get the feeling that she’s teaching a child how to make friends?

Most of all, why is it necessary to become their patient? Would you become a patient of an oncologist just to learn about their care?

Why should the process of referring patients to a CAM practitioner (which is where I assume we’re going with this) be any different from an allopath? Patient and/or physician recommendations lead to a call to identify their areas of expertise and interests. Request business cards. Then have your office manager hand them out when the appropriate need arises.

It’s easy to conclude that the author is naive, but Medscape editors reviewed and approved this article.

10/21/07 19:12 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.