April 2014 John Weeks Integrator Round-Up: Professions

AHMA exploring merging into new Academy of Integrative Health and MedicineA recent president's message from American Holistic Medical Association leader Molly Roberts, MD describes steps being taken by that organization in is exploration of a merger with the American Board

AHMA exploring merging into new Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine

A recent president's message from American Holistic Medical Association leader Molly Roberts, MD describes steps being taken by that organization in is exploration of a merger with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine into a new Academy of Integrative Holistic Medicine. The announcement is part of a planned roll-out of this change that, according to Roberts, will include a series of supportive columns from the organization's past presidents. Roberts characterizes the move as "an exciting time for our profession as we birth something that is greater than the sum of its parts." The Academy (AIHM), according to this release, is planned to be a broader, multidisciplinary organization with an international reach. AHMA, founded in 1978 to convene the pioneers in the holistic medical field, has become a more broadly integrative organization in recent years through changes in its membership guidelines.

Comment: I was honored to be pulled into the conversation about the emerging Academy through a call last October from long-time holistic leader and colleague Scott Shannon, MD. My excitement with the potential for the AIHM’s big tent led me to pull a couple of my other colleagues into the dialogue and to recently accept a position on the Academy's board of directors. I'll be chronicling its activities.

Trends and "Tremors in the Massage Industry"

In an article in Massage Today entitled "Tremors in the Massage Industry", Pete Whitridge, president of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, provides useful trend data on the field. From a high of 1600 massage schools in 2008, the numbers today have dropped to 1300 since the crash. Student enrollments are down 18.8% since 2011 and down a full 50% since 2005. Of the schools, roughly 52% are sole-owner (versus corporate) proprietary, and of these just 20% have sought any form of accreditation. Overall, 60% have some accreditation. In general, corporate, university and "career training institutes" are drawing more students. Noting that many graduates "struggle to establish an economically viable practice," Whitridge asks: "How can we have so many schools and so few 'quality' therapists?" He concludes bluntly: "Growth within the massage education industry has ended."

Comment: The core health system issue not engaged by Whitridge in this article is the tough to estimate answer to this two pronged question: What would the massage workforce be in an optimal delivery system in the United States, and what level of training of these therapists is needed? Not mentioned by Whitridge but significant in the field's stuttering decline is that only roughly 7% of the 1300 have chosen to seek accreditation through the field's US Department of Education-recognized accreditation body, the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation. Single purpose accreditation is a unifying, powerful force in all healthcare professions. Massage may be exceptional. I doubt it. The field is shooting itself in the foot by not setting a higher and unified bar.

Transition at AAAOM: Jabbour steps down as president of national acupuncture association

Follow-up: The March Integrator Round-up featured the first of two investigative pieces from MP Media publisher Donald Peterson about the leadership of the American Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ("National acupuncture association  and president Michael Jabbour taken to task in 'AAAOM - Making Promises it Can't Keep'”). I supported Peterson's view that Jabbour should step down from this presidency of AAAOM. Peterson subsequently published "AAAOM-The Beginning of the End (Part II): Leadership was warned of the organization's incompetence long ago." Jabbour has since resigned. Now the question is: who in that field will pick of the pieces?

National Association for Certified Professional Midwives accepted into International Confederation of Midwives

The professional organization representing midwives most likely to be involved with out-of-hospital and homebirth, the National Association for Certified Professional Midwives, has had its application for membership accepted to the International Confederation of Midwives. The latter, according to NACPM, is comprised of 108 midwives associations, representing 95 countries across every continent. Together they represent more than 300,000 midwives globally. NACPM is pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the ICM alongside the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of North America, both long-standing ICM members from the United States. In a note to members and supporting, NACPM noted that its president Ellie Daniels, CPM and executive director Mary Lawlor, CPM will be the first NACPM representatives to participate in the ICM Council of Delegates, which meets this June 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Maryland becomes 18th state to regulate naturopathic doctors

On April 14, 2014, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill to enable naturopathic doctors in Maryland to become licensed to practice naturopathic medicine.  Maryland becomes the 18th state to regulate naturopathic doctors.  According to a joint release from the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the bill received strong bipartisan support, culminating four years of effort by naturopathic doctors in Maryland to gain licensure. The release notes that “after opposing licensure for four years, the Medical Society representing Maryland physicians dropped its opposition, largely because a growing number of MDs who strongly supported the bill.” One strong supporter was Peter Beilenson, MD, of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and former Commissioner of the Baltimore and Howard County health departments, and current President and CEO of the Evergreen Healthcare Co-Op.  The release notes that “a turning point” in the licensure effort came when Maryland’s Health Secretary, Joshua Sharfstein, MD and leaders from the Maryland General Assembly visited the Casey Health Institute in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  The policy makers were “impressed by the patient- centered, integrative approaches being used there to treat patients.”