Northwestern University

Northwestern University

Medical school curriculum

All medical students at the Feinberg School of Medicine participate in a series of required lectures that cover topics such as Philosophy, Dietary Supplements, Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Mind/Body Medicine. Dr. Melinda Ring is the medical school director for this course, and Northwestern Integrative Medicine physicians and complementary medicine providers as well as guest faculty teach the classes. An Honors option is available to interested students.


For more hands-on learning, 4th year medical students, residents and fellows can participate in a 2-4 week elective housed in Northwestern Integrative Medicine. This course has been extremely well received with recent comments:

”The integrative medicine rotation provided two of the best weeks I’ve had in medical school. Getting to experience massage, acupuncture, meditation and nutrition counseling first hand helped me to better understand my own health. The two weeks provides you an opportunity to reflect on how you feel and it opens your eyes to new treatments that you might not have considered otherwise. The staff are all incredibly nice and they work hard to provide students with an informative and immersive overview of the field of integrative medicine. I learned things on this rotation that I have no doubt that I will be using with patients 30 years from now. One of the best rotations I have had in my medical school experience.”
-FSM Student, Class of 2012

”My integrative medicine rotation was a true pleasure, a great learning experience, and a time to truly reflect on personal well-being and health habits. This is the first time during medical school where I felt I had truly had a better understanding and grasp on what CAM means, the research that is ongoing in the field, and the modalities that many of our patients are using or are interested in learning about. I realized that what I had previously characterized CAM as was mostly herbal supplementation, acupuncture, and the like. During this rotation, interestingly, I realized that what CAM is really about is providing holistic care with a preventative focus, something that hits true to home for me, a future Family physician. Rather than ”complementary” or ”alternative” a lot of the modalities that fall under the category of CAM are essential to well-being, good mental, emotional, and physical health. This rotation also let me focus on my own health. Previously I was afraid of acupuncture, but interestingly, this turned out to be the most relaxing and invigorating experience for me during the whole rotation. That’s only one of many things that I learn that I”ll take with me into the future. Thanks for the experience!”
-FSM Student, Class of 2012

Integrative Medicine Intensive (MED.4594.02.NMH)
Advisor: Melinda Ring, MD
Clerkship Director: Melinda Ring, MD,
Clerkship Coordinator: Sherri Peavy, MBA, 150 E. Huron, Suite 1100,

Background and Justification


  • Develop and understanding of the key principles of integrative medicine and how they enhance the quality of patient-centered care.
  • Explore a clinical area of interest within Integrative Medicine.
  • Promote self-exploration/self-care.
  • Experience first-hand complementary medicine treatments
  • Become knowledgeable in benefits and limitations of common CAM modalities.
  • Identify conditions for which an integrative approach could be beneficial.


  • Personally experience the benefits of an integrative medicine approach through trial of varied complementary medicine modalities and self-care
  • Perform an Integrative Medicine interview.
  • Communicate effectively with patients about CAM in an open manner that increases patient self-efficacy and empowerment.
  • Use evidence-based resources to explore an area of interest.
  • Develop an in depth Integrative Medicine Treatment Plan specifically tailored to meet an individual patient’s needs in a holistic fashion.
  • Interact with practitioners from varied healing traditions in a collegial manner to facilitate coordinated patient care.
  • Describe the benefits of mind/body therapies and understand how to teach a brief relaxation exercise to patients.

Course Format and Proposed Schedule:

This two week long rotation consists of ambulatory patient care at Northwestern Integrative Medicine (NIM). The participant will attend clinic or be involved in assigned activities Monday-Friday during clinic hours. There are no weekend or call responsibilities.

Instructional strategies include informal lectures, experiential learning, and small group discussion of assigned reading, clinical experiences, and a patient case.

Participants will have the opportunity to personally experience complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, energy healing, chiropractic, biofeedback and meditation. Nutrition evaluations and participation in movement classes are a part of the self-care component of the rotation.

Background and Justification

Evaluation by preceptor will include reviews of a reflective journal, evidence-based paper and case presentation. All components must be satisfactorily completed in order to receive a satisfactory grade for the course.

Number of weeks

Two. The full integrative medicine elective is offered at specific blocks in the academic calendar. Please specify which of the 2 available blocks you are requesting:
2 week 2/4/2013- 2/15/2013; option to extend to 4 weeks 2/4-3/1 for approved research project
2 week 4/29/2013-5/10/2013 ; option to extend to 4 weeks 4/29- 5/24 if approved for research project
NOTE: Requests for electives outside these 2 time slots will be considered; however students will not receive the full curriculum with all didactic sessions, and students will be responsible for coordinating meetings with CAM providers and physicians.
Number of students: 10
Number of credits: One half credit.


Students interested in taking this elective should familiarize themselves with the basic definition of different CAM modalities which can be found at the NCCAM website:

Sites: Northwestern Integrative Medicine, 150 E. Huron, Suite 1100 and some off-site experiences.

First day report to: Sherri Peavy, MBA at 8am on first day, or student will be e-mailed instructions.


Northwestern Integrative Medicine co-hosts an annual preventive and integrative medicine conference with the Cleveland Clinic. As use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) continues to expand, so does the practitioner’s need to know current risk-benefit data, potential applications, and how to integrate CAMs into clinical practice. Because these therapies are still outside mainstream medicine, not all practitioners are familiar with the evidence base for these options or may be uncomfortable discussing them with patients or prescribing them.

At this conference, presenters will discuss up-to-date scientific information on using CAMs to enhance traditional medical practices in the prevention and treatment of disease. The objective of this conference is to provide current, scientific evidence on the use of CAM and related wellness therapies in the prevention and treatment of diseases and in the promotion of general health and well-being.

The format will focus on evidence-based discussions, helping health care practitioners understand the benefits and risks of these treatments and how to integrate them into a patient-specific management plan. By narrowing the educational gap among practitioners of CAMs, this program will ultimately translate into improved patient outcomes.