EducationIFM’s program to become a Certified Functional Medicine PractitionerFor 14 years, the Institute for Functional Medicine has offered a 5 day training program entitled Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) as the cornerstone of its educational offerings. The program

IFM’s program to become a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner 

For 14 years, the Institute for Functional Medicine has offered a 5-day training program entitled Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) as the cornerstone of its educational offerings. The program is also a core requirement for the organization’s requirements to become a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. The list of requirements includes the following elements: 

  • Week-long onsite AFMCP  
  • Six 2 ½ day onsite Advanced Practice Modules 
  • Functional Medicine Fundamentals 
  • Webinar case studies following each module
  • Course review webinar 
  • Certification exams & case presentations    

The next iteration of the basic training will be held in Baltimore September 12-16, 2011. The brochure includes a powerful endorsement quote from integrative medicine leader Brian Berman, MD. Price is $2875. The 20 listed faculty members include 18 medical doctors and 2 naturopathic physicians. IFM’s promise is in the cut-line on its brochure: “If you want to transform your practice, you need a plan.” IFM’s certification does not at this time have any 3rd party accreditation of its certification process.

Comment: Perhaps I am the last to be aware of IFM’s certification program. Setting a standard is good. One of the most significant issues to a consumer relative to both “integrative medicine” and “functional medicine” is that anyone can apply the terms to their practice, with or without any specialized training. How can a consumer know what the term means if there are no standards? This certification is a step in the right direction.

One small gripe: Does IFM model appropriately utilize the discrete skills of other natural health practitioners? A decade ago a leading information firm called Integrative Medicine Communications, to which I sold my hard-copy Integrator, marketed its products to medical doctors will the cut-line: “Know It All.” Via hubris, maybe, the firm went under. No single practitioner of any type can, of course, know it all. And even the most integrative of providers is not likely to fully understanding how best to use other practitioners, including other integrative practitioners. Integrating “science, research and clinical insights to treat and prevent disease and maintain health,” as the IFM brochure claims, is not enough. One must also know how to best integrate other practitioners. This appears to be an area that could stand some work.


CTCA begins chiropractic internship with Parker University 

Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) has initiated a chiropractic internship program with Parker University. CTCA has been known for its inclusion of naturopathic doctors in its integrative treatment processes but chiropractors have not been significant players. An article in the July 15, 2011 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic described the program, which will be directed by John Silbey, DC at CTCA’s Tulsa, Oklahoma site. “This internship is designed to best prepare Parker students for clinical practice within integrated health care settings,” added Dr. Patrick Bodnar, assistant dean of clinics at Parker University. “It will expand the clinical portion of the student’s education and will benefit them tremendously.” An intern notes that the experience is also broadening her understanding of other natural health fields: “So far, I have been with the intake department, two medical oncologists, acupuncture, mind/body medicine, and naturopathic medicine.” 

Comment: Kudos to CTCA and Parker for establishing a remarkable opportunity for both chiropractic integration and also for interprofessional education/care (IPE/C). Experts in IPE/C say that the optimal site for education that creates respect across disciplines is in the clinical setting. This program is a still rare opportunity. (Thanks to Glenn Sabin for alerting me to the story.)


Inside the 2009-2010 budget of a leading institution of natural health sciences: Bastyr University 

The Bastyr University 2009-2010 Annual Report provides on interesting look at the economics in a leading institution of natural health sciences. The university had 927 students in this period: 176 undergraduate, 499 first professional degree and 237 graduate students. Total operating revenues reached $28.8 million. Of this, 88% ($25.5-million) is represented as Education and General Revenues. Tuition alone represents 71% of revenues, or just over $20-million. (The largest portion of the remainder of the General Revenues is likely clinic fees.) Governmental grants totaled $2.3-million and philanthropic gifts $888,475. The portion of the Bastyr revenues from grants and donations was lower than any year since 2006. It has remained between $3.1-$5.1-million throughout. The 33-year-old institution shows roughly $2.7-million in endowment investments and net assets of $14.2 million. Bastyr showed a net from operations of $1.8-million in the period of the report.

Comment: Many trained in conventional academic health centers have little idea how dependent on tuition are the schools educating students for the distinctly licensed CAM fields. A colleague recently sent a note estimating that tuition probably accounts for upward of 85% of revenues in most CAM fields. By that standard, Bastyr’s dependency is relatively low. The university is a huge recipient, compared to most other CAM schools, of federal research funding. (See related article this Round-up.) I suspect that the level of philanthropy, at roughly 3%, is also high compared to most others. Bastyr has invested in development since it was founded. Still, the pressure on tuition is extreme. Here’s hoping that Bastyr president Dan Church, PhD, who first had to clean up a budget mess he inherited, will find a way to that promised land. It’s tough to be the Harvard of natural medicine – an aspirational phrase one sometimes hears around Bastyr- without the room to dream and act that an endowment affords. The nation will be better off with not one but a half-dozen or more thriving, multidisciplinary universities of natural health sciences. 


Alliance for Massage Therapy Education continues step-wise effort to fill gap in massage self-regulation 

Comment: The program for the second annual conference of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, August 18-20, 2011, gives ample evidence of the critical role this organization is already modeling for that field. The program includes a keynote from a nurse educator on teaching excellence, plus presentations on developing competency-based assessment on student performance and something called “instructional design for inspired learning.” These are coupled with two presentations related to the organization’s own Teacher Education Standard Project. Other presentations focus on policy and regulatory issues of interest to massage educators, plus nuts-and-bolts content on marketing and ethics. The massage field reportedly has over 1440 schools. It needs just the kind of strong leadership that Rick Rosen, MA, LMT and his team are assembling. I honored Rosen in the Integrator Top 10 People from 2010. The organization’s necessary work continues.

Roberti di Sarsina’s Italian “master course” links policy, management and CAM 

Integrator editorial adviser Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD has announced a new “Master-course” he will be offering entitled “Health Systems, Traditional and non-Traditional Medicine.” The course will “address the subjects of health, person-centred medicine, Traditional and Non Conventional Medicines, anthropological health systems. To this end it will survey various health models and their impact on welfare, and go into the latest topics of Health Sociology.” In a note to the Integrator, he adds:

“The Master-course is designed for those in search of new skills and professionalism to employ in improving management of health trusts, veterinary branches of the health system, hospitals and clinics, wellness centres, centres studying and researching into health and disease. It will focus on changes in people’s demand for treatment, and cater to researchers on issues of Health and Wellness … The intention is to train managers, decision-makers, researchers and health workers to plan a person-centred, sustainable, transparent and honest health model of relevance to the individual citizen, health units and epidemiological research teams.

Again: “The Master-course aims, in short, to train a manager to plan a health model from the citizen’s angle.” The first postgraduate course of this kind in Italy will be taught in Italian and requires attendance onsite. An announcement in English is here.

Comment: What I found of particular interest in Roberti di Sarsina’s course is the way that traditional medicines and “CAM” are implanted in a broader discussion of the status of the health system, both management and economics. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a course description here. One has to love the ambition, if be overwhelmed with the potential subject matter.