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May 29, 2019

With gift, QU med school adds study of chronic fatigue syndrome to curriculum

PHOTO | Courtesy Quinnipiac University Family-medicine professor Selinger says CFS is frequently misdiagnosed.

Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine has created new curriculum on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme exhaustion that cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition.

The curriculum, which will be introduced during the 2019-20 academic year, has been funded by a gift from an anonymous donor afflicted with the disorder. That gift was matched by the university.

The goal was to create a curriculum on CFS for practicing physicians and medical students over the course of medical school, said Howard Andrew Selinger, MD, who teaches family medicine at the QU med school.

“Though CFS is a chronic, debilitating disease that is believed to affect between 800,000 and 2.5 million Americans, no one has been able to identify a specific cause or treatment,” said Selinger in a statement. “In addition, people with CFS face stigma and unconscious bias.

“Though it is more common than MS, ALS or end-stage kidney disease, many primary care physicians misdiagnose the disease as depression,” Selinger added. “Patients need support and someone who validates the diagnosis.”

Symptoms of CFS can include mental fogginess or the inability to process information, and post-exertional malaise, which can last for months.

The med school’s curriculum begins during the first year with patient presentations and a video by a physician who was diagnosed with CFS and is attempting to manage the disease. Students are paired to role play answers to research question on CFS diagnosis, treatment and epidemiology.

The curriculum for second- and third-year students will begin during the 2020-21 academic year.

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