U.S. Med Students Not Getting Medical Cannabis Training

Medical students and cannabis training
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While the majority of U.S. states now allow the use of cannabis medicines, a recent study has found medical students aren’t receiving training in prescribing them.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have revealed the results of a survey that indicated nearly 90 per cent of med students felt they weren’t well-prepared to prescribe medicinal marijuana and 85 per cent had not received any training during their studies and residencies. More than 35% felt they were ill-prepared to answer cannabis-related questions.

Another survey, part of the same study, was sent to medical school curriculum deans at 172 institutions. Of the 101 replies received, nearly 67 per cent said graduates weren’t prepared enough to prescribe medical marijuana. Furthermore, 25 per cent of deans said their trainees weren’t even equipped to answer questions about medicinal cannabis.

Based on data the researchers were able to retrieve from the Association of American Medical Colleges AAMC database, only 9 percent of medical schools had reported teaching their students about medicinal cannabis.

“Medical education needs to catch up to marijuana legislation,” said senior author of the paper, Laura Jean Bierut, MD. “Physicians in training need to know the benefits and drawbacks associated with medical marijuana so they know when or if, and to whom, to prescribe the drug.”

While medical literature on medical cannabis can be conflicting and there are 21 states where it is yet to be legal, co-investigator Carolyn Dufault PhD says training should address what is known, the controversy and research opportunities.

The paper, titled “Physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana” was recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence

“With even more states on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, physician training should adapt to encompass this new reality of medical practice,” says the study’s conclusion.

It’s not just physicians-in-training challenged by medicinal marijuana. Many GPs are trying to come to terms with it in countries throughout the world.

As we mentioned yesterday, in Australia, rural doctors are being encouraged to attend a session at an upcoming conference to familiarise themselves with related issues. Earlier this year, United In Compassion, co-founded by Lucy Haslam, ran Australia’s first one day course designed by health care practitioners for peers.