John Weeks June 2013 Integrator Round-up covering the topic of integratve health care and integrative medicine.

American Board of Integrative Medicine opens application process for new medical specialty, affirms interprofessional definition

On June 1, 2013 the American  Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) announced that it is officially open for business. ABOIM is, as the release states, a member board of the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) which is “the first multi-specialty certifying body to offer physician certification in integrative medicine.” Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2013 for the first exam which will be held in  May 2014. The release states that “ABOIM marks an important milestone in the development in the field of integrative medicine.” Andrew Weil, MD, credited with popularizing the integrative medicine term, is quoted: “Finally there’s a way for qualified physicians to present themselves as experts in offering competent integrative care to patients. I strongly support the American Board of Integrative Medicine.” Certification is open to medical doctors and osteopaths in the United States and Canada.

The release aligned the activity closely with both Weil and the 56 member organization that has been spearheading the field’s advancement, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM). The release stated: “Integrative medicine is defined by ABOIM and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine in the following way: It is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” (Italics added.)

Comment: This is a historic moment. I am particularly pleased to see endorsement here of the Consortium’s definition of integrative medicine. This is the only significant integrative medicine definition that positions itself in the the movement for interprofessional practice and team care. The job of the ABOIM-certified integrative medicine doctor is to integrate “approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines.” (Italics added.) The definitions favored by the Bravewell Collaborative, the Institute of Medicine, and Weil’s own Arizona Center are not overtly interprofessional. This definition positions the field, smartly, where the puck is going in health care.

Congratulations to the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, to leaders of the American Board of Holistic Integrative Medicine, CAHCIM, and others involved who have pulled that field together quite brilliantly since the decision to create the ABOIM was announced in September 2011. My guess is that there are members of the Bravewell Collaborative of philanthrists who will find this a terrific milestone to have behind them before that organization wraps things up with its November 2013 gala.


Gaudet honors naturopathic physicians as pioneers of “integrative medicine,” explains the need for integrative MDs in system change

“Why do we need to start integrative medicine?” The current director of the VA’s Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, Tracy Gaudet, MD was reflecting, before a May 2013 audience organized by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, on her first encounter with the naturopathic profession. The year was 1996. Gaudet had just been hired by Andrew Weil, MD to direct what was then the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. That program would birth the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine and now the American Board of Integrative Medicine (see above.) Gaudet, who guided Duke Integrative Medicine for a decade between her Arizona and VA work, continued: “Naturopathic physicians are a huge part of the solution. You always have been. I asked Andy: ‘Why are we doing something that’s already out there?'” Then to the appreciative audience of naturopathic doctors: “Don’t you ask yourself that question? Like, ‘hello’ …!” Gaudet then explained that her study of health system change had taught her why integrative medical doctors are especially important: “In health system change, you need constructs and concepts that are a bridge.”

Comment: Good for Gaudet, letting this history out of the bag. The dense overlap of the ND and MD-IM fields, together with the more stringent integrative medicine education requirements in accredited naturopathic education, has provoked some integrative medicine spokespeople to simply leave naturopathic medicine out of their books, reviews and presentations, or reduce them to “modalities”. Such lack of recognition for the depth of training provoked resentment in many NDs for perceived intellectual and historic dishonesty among their MD colleagues. I have felt such resentment, personally, as I was intimately involved with the re-birth of the naturopathic profession between 1983-1993. Good for Gaudet, also, for teaching the audience of naturopathic doctors with such clarity about the need for the integrative MDs as bridging, change agents. True story. This is a healing moment. I like that it comes at the opening of applications for the ABOIM, the new MD/DO IM specialty.


From Google Alerts: links to integrative medicine in health systems and communities for June 2013

This monthly report includes 20 segments from Google Alerts on integrative medicine developments in health systems plus a half-dozen from the community for May 7, 2013-May 31, 2013. These came via requests for “integrative medicine,” “integrative oncology” and “complementary and alternative medicine.” Major integrative centers were officially opened in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Casey Health Institute (CHI) in Gaithersberg, Maryland. A blog post by CHI’s director of integrative medicine, Andrew Wong, MD, is here and one from his colleague, naturopathic physician Carrie Runde, ND, is here.