TRAINEE DOCTORS are to study New Age therapies as a compulsory part of their medical training. Once derided as crackpot, alternative medicine is to become de rigueur in medical schools.
Students will swap stethoscopes and thermometers for acupuncture needles and homeopathic kits and spend time doing "hands on" work with patients .
Newcastle is the first university to make complementary medicine compulsory although several universities are setting up study options in treatments such as osteopathy, homeopathy and hypnosis.
All medical students at Newcastle will have an introduction to the subject, with the chance to take a seven-week course on the mysteries of pressure points, hypnosis and spinal manipulation techniques. Working under supervision in acupuncture and osteopathic clinics, the students will help diagnose and discuss treatments for patients.
The medical schools are taking their lead from GPs. According to researchers at Exeter University, as many as 40 per cent of GP practices in England now provide massage, osteopathy, homeopathy and acupuncture treatments for conditions such as asthma, skin complaints and back pain.
"An increasing number of patients are turning to alternative practitioners and doctors need to be aware of what these therapies entail so they can advise their patients from a position of strength," said Professor Reg Jordan, director of medical …