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

Interprofessionalism: teaching acupuncturists to work with doctors regarding brain chemistry

Christian Nix is one of the few players in our fields who is devoting a significant amount of professional work to directly getting down the chops that will stimulate quality relationships between a distinct integrative practice field and regular medical doctors. In Nix’ case, this is acupuncture, in which he is educated and licensed. In his recent article for Acupuncture TodayA Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry, he lays out a communication strategy that he believes will make the value of acupuncture a slam dunk.

Nix notes that the most significant issues confronting medical doctors are related to pain, stress, anxiety and depression. He notes that literature on acupuncture supports roles in alleviating each. In a chart, Nix, and his co-author, Paul Raford, MD, MPH, cross-walk biomedical jargon with AOM jargon (“elevated blood pressure (liver depression qi stagnation”). They recommend never using AOM jargon unless the MD introduces it, and even in such a case, to immediately refer to the biomedical parallel. An example on language he suggests: “Few physicians you will encounter will

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

Interprofessionalism: teaching acupuncturists to work with doctors regarding brain chemistry

Christian Nix is one of the few players in our fields who is devoting a significant amount of professional work to directly getting down the chops that will stimulate quality relationships between a distinct integrative practice field and regular medical doctors. In Nix’ case, this is acupuncture, in which he is educated and licensed. In his recent article for Acupuncture Today, A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry, he lays out a communication strategy that he believes will make the value of acupuncture a slam dunk.

Nix notes that the most significant issues confronting medical doctors are related to pain, stress, anxiety and depression. He notes that literature on acupuncture supports roles in alleviating each. In a chart, Nix, and his co-author, Paul Raford, MD, MPH, cross-walk biomedical jargon with AOM jargon (“elevated blood pressure (liver depression qi stagnation”). They recommend never using AOM jargon unless the MD introduces it, and even in such a case, to immediately refer to the biomedical parallel. An example on language he suggests: “Few physicians you will encounter will likely be unaware that acupuncture gets its pain-relieving affects via ‘endogenous opiate release.’ Use that phrase.” Similarly: “The concept of the allostatic load is perhaps less elegant than pattern discrimination; but it is a useful and empowering concept to know about and especially to employ in your conversations with physicians.”

Comment: This is fun stuff, and at the center of the game of optimal integration. Take a look at the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice developed by the “Big 6” regular professions and published in 2011. Nix’ work speaks to the heart of it. Stubbornness in asserting one’s own paradigm and language – perfect in expression as a practitioner may think it is – is akin to landing in New York and demanding that the best strategy for integration is Swahili. We need more people focusing on these integrative health language arts.

 

What Wayne Jonas shared with Grantmakers in Health in a March 2014 plenary address on “Giving Healing a Voice”

The Samueli Foundation, which funds the Samueli Institute for which Wayne Jonas, MDs, serves as CEO, has worked to raise the visibility of integrative health and healing among the Grantmakers in Health (GiH) for a good part of the last decade. In March 2014, the Foundation scored a coup when Jonas presented a keynote entitled “Giving Healing a Voice” at the GiH annual meeting. In the talk, Jonas sought to move his audience between “a healthcare system that focuses on healing and a medical system that focuses on cure.” He defines “healing” as “the process of recovery, repair and a return to wholeness.”  He lays out the horrors of our present system via the 2013 Institute of Medicine report from Steven Wolf, MD, Short Lives, Poorer Health.

Well into the talk, Jonas introduces the concept of “salutogenesis” and states bluntly: “We need a healthcare system that focuses on salutogenesis and frames a profession and industry around that and not just around pathogenesis.” In his view we are “swimming in a soup of healing potential – but we have to bring it forward. We have to name it. We have to measure and value it. We have to invest time and resources in it.” His prescriptive elements turned to two powerful projects in which the Samueli Institute had a lead: Total Force Fitness in the military and Optimal Healing Environments.

Comment:  Terrific that Jonas, with the Samueli Foundation’s support, is bringing this vision and agenda to these possible change-makers. Yet I was surprised that nowhere does he reference Don Berwick’s call for a system focused on health creation or note a similar perspective from an innovation leader at Mayo Clinic. These might have lent some associated power to the movement Jonas promotes. It was also notable that Jonas made no explicit mention of integrative health, integrative medicine, complementary and alternative practices or providers. Curious. Perhaps politically he might have not wanted to sully the presentation by any links to the untouchables from the “CAM” world. Yet that 55 medical schools have programs nominally devoted to a system the focuses on optimal health and healing also might have anchored his call to action on salutogenesis. The movement associated with integrative health and medicine is not in any way referenced as potentially a part of what may be useful in moving the agenda. All that said, it is terrific to have this group focused on the idea of a “system that focuses on salutogenesis and frames a profession and industry around that.” Why didn’t he come to me for speech-writing advice!

 

From Google Alerts: Links to Integrative Medicine in Health Systems, Communities and Internationally

This typically monthly Integrator feature is a quick capture of highlights from the multitude of links that flow in daily via Google Alerts for “integrative medicine,” “complementary and alternative medicine” and “alternative medicine.” Here are 8 selections related to hospitals and medical organizations and integrative medicine, 3 from alternative and integrative medicine in community non-system practices, and 7 developments from around the world for August 2014.