The Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) Announces Re-branding as the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH)

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and Reports

The re-branding continues. Leaders of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), recently dropped the “CAM” out of their name. On January 28, 2016, the ACCAHC announced that it will now be known as the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH). The not-for-profit consists of 17 North American academic, accreditation and certification organizations as well as 40 individual college members – that together receive about 3% of funds from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

This train of re-branding can be tracked  back to at least December of 2014, when the National Institute of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) re-branded itself as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

The following month, in January 2015, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM), an organization constituted of more than 60 medical schools that have received 97% of the NCCIH’s largesse, announced that it too was replacing one challenging acronym with another. The CAHCIM reappeared as the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (ACIMH). Still, rather than use either acronym, members use “The Consortium” as a preferred alternative.  As the sibling organization to the ACIMH, the interprofessional ACIH produces a newsletter called The Collaborator and it is expected that their members will prefer their own alternative, “The Collaborative.”

In the meantime, the ACIH announced in Global Advances in Health and Medicine that new executive committee and officers had been elected to lead the re-named organization. New members include: Stacy Gomes, EdD, the representative from the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; Dale Healey, DC, PhD, from the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation; John Scaringe, DC, EdD, for the Council on Chiropractic Education, an accrediting body; and JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Officers are chair David O’Bryon, JD, CAE, the executive director of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges; vice-chair, Yanez; treasurer, Kory Ward-Cook, PhD, MT (ASCP), CEO of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; and secretary, Scaringe. Long-time executive committee members Jan Schwartz, MA, BCTMB, Pamela Snider, ND, and Marcia Prenguber, ND, will continue to serve on the Collaborative’s Board of Directors. Co-executive directors are Elizabeth Goldblatt, PhD, MPA/HA and Martha Menard, PhD, LMT.

Comment: The name shuffle can seem like a shell game in Times Square, where the quick hands of a street-hustler make you miss what is under each acronym. The game gets even more interesting when you consider conference names. The major international conference for the ACIMH is called the International Congress of Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH). In 2006 and 2009, the event was known as the North American Congress on Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NARCCIM), marking a divestiture of “complementary” and an opening to is actual “international” audience. To confuse things even further, one of the supporting organizations for that May 2016 meeting, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), has chosen to name its June 2016 conference in Germany the International Congress for Integrative Health and Medicine (ICIHM). Look closely: they are different.

The pattern is interesting. Absent is “alternative.” Almost gone, except from the federal government agency, NCCIH, is “complementary.” Notably, NCCIH kept the “complementary – C,” in part via dialogue with leaders of the ACIH who have since removed “complementary”, but had initially expressed a concern that without the “C”, the agency’s tendency to grant 97% of their largesse to their integrative counterpart, the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (ACIMH), would quickly propel the entire allotment to “The Consortium”. In retrospect, it must be a little frustrating for the NCCIH to have been abandoned and left as the sole holders of “complementary,” just one year after vows had been renewed. In the meantime, everybody is moving towards “integrative.” Only The Consortium is putting “medicine” first. For the rest, the emphasis is definitely on “health.”

The transition in leadership at “The Collaborative” (a.k.a. ACIH, formerly ACCAHC) deserves to be celebrated. Institutions begin as ideas. I was among those present when the ACCAHC was founded and the contributions that have come from the commitment to collaborate have been substantial. They’ve earned the right to be called The Collaborative. What is terrific in seeing new, top-flight group of leaders is the maturation from founders to an enduring commitment to interprofessional action across these fields. That’s good news for all involved, and for health care in general.