The Association of Korean Medicine (AKOM) has set about to benchmark the U.S. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)’s licensing system to nurture oriental medical doctors as primary medical specialists based on integrative medicine. However, Oriental medicine education experts were skeptical about the idea.
AKOM President Choi Hyuk-yong vowed to follow the example of the D.O. system to bring up Korean Oriental medical experts and innovate education at Oriental medical schools at a debate in Seoul, Tuesday.
|Experts hold a debate on whether Korea should adopt the U.S. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) licensing system to nurture Oriental medical practitioners as primary care specialists, at a workshop in Seoul, Tuesday.|
“We need to provide an excellent education for people to become life-saving physicians. To overhaul the educational curriculum at Oriental medical schools and shift our system to one that rides the global medical educational trends, we must put much interest and effort,” Choi said.
Adopting the D.O. model to Korean Oriental medicine will enhance the clinical capacity of Korean Oriental medical practitioners who pursue integrative medicine for primary care, and establish a medical system for the public health, he added.
AKOM wishes to benchmark the D.O. model because it could be a solution for limited medical education opportunities for Oriental medical doctors in Korea, where physicians and Oriental medical practitioners get two separate licenses.
According to Lee Eun-kyung, director of Oriental Medicine Policy Research Institute, a D.O. receives equivalent medical education with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and can practice the full scope of medicine, including surgery and drug prescription, as an M.D. About 84.7 percent of osteopathic doctors provide primary care at clinics for family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, she said.
“Korean physicians undervalue the role of Oriental medical schools and say students there should learn more. But the schools lack education for medical sciences such as biomedicine both in quantity and quality,” Lee said.
However, another expert opposed to the introduction of the D.O. model to Korea, which has a dual medical licensing system.
Oriental medical schools need more practical measures such as more supply of professors and approval for Oriental doctors to use medical devices, he said.
Lee Jae-dong, president of the Korean Oriental Medical School Dean Council, said the Korean system was different from that of the U.S. in that Koreans tend to put more importance in winning the medical license and graduating from famous universities, while D.O. has equal qualifications as M.D. in the U.S.
“To nurture Oriental medical practitioners as primary care specialists, the curriculum of Oriental medical schools should include teaching medical devices and general medical tests,” Lee said.
However, doing so will be very difficult in reality, he noted, because it is challenging to secure a professor who can provide medical education at Oriental medical schools. “We need education so that students can build capacity in biomedicine, general exams, and diagnosis within six years of the curriculum of Oriental medical schools,” Lee added.
Lee hoped that the government could support his idea and find a way to provide medical education at Oriental medical schools, despite the opposition from the Korean Medical Association.
The government emphasized that the Oriental medicine sector and the medical community should resolve their conflict first to make Oriental medicine doctors primary care providers.
Jeong Young-hoon, director of the Oriental Medicine Policy Division at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said, “People must become desperate about something to make a difference. The intensity is increasing, but it is not enough. There was a conflict, but not enough to shake this overall structure.”
It was difficult for the government to promote Oriental medical practitioners as primary care specialists amid the conflict between medicine and Oriental medicine, he went on to say.
The government was on a third-stage pilot program to seek cooperative medical service between medicine and Oriental medicine, and for the program to succeed, the two sides should share the same goal, he emphasized.
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