By David Tuller, DrPH
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Medical education in the US has not generally included accurate information about ME/CFS. If medical students learned anything at all about the illness, it is most likely the view that it should be regarded as psychosomatic and that exercise and psychotherapy should be prescribed. The same is true for residencies and fellowships, and for continuing medical education (CME), which physicians must pursue to maintain their licenses.
The Open Medicine Foundation (OMF), whose work was featured in Inside Philanthropy in August, has recently partnered with Lucinda Bateman, a well-known ME/CFS specialist in Salt Lake City, Utah, to expands efforts to promote better medical education. According to OMF, the Medical Education Resource Center (MERC) at Bateman Home Center “is dedicated to educating healthcare professionals to expand their awareness, knowledge, diagnostic, and treatment ability for the benefit of those with multi-system Chronic Complex Diseases (msCCD) such as ME/CFS, FM, post-viral syndromes, and related comorbidities.”
Bateman is the founder and medical director of the BHC and education director of the MERC. Her own medical training, at Johns Hopkins in the late 1980s, coincided with the emergence of “chronic fatigue syndrome” as a clinical entity, so all her learning about the illness essentially occurred on-the-job. We recently spoke by zoom about the lack of medical education in this domain and related issues. (We had some technical issues—specifically, a wobbly signal—which turned out to be because I was having poor reception in one part of my flat. So a couple of sections are glitchy, and I don’t know how to edit them out.)
It’s so important that medical education is correct and doesn’t mislead doctors.
I was interested to hear Bateman saying that she was taught by her university/medical school to be a critical thinker and to ask hard questions, but it sounds like not all medical students receive that key training. It seems to me that critical thinking training must be in very short supply, because doctors don’t seem to ask many questions at all these days but appear to accept whatever they are told without further investigation or challenge.
Susan Taylor-Brown says
The partnership of BHC and OMF bodes well for the complex chronic Illness community. Thank you for highlighting this partnership. Concerted efforts to counter outdated paradigms regarding ME/CFS are needed across healthcare.