December 2014 John Weeks Integrator Round-Up: Academics

by John Weeks, Publisher Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports   Update The IFM Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program   The Integrator recently contacted the Institute for Functional Medicine for an update on a collaboration between the Institute for

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

Update: The IFM-Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program

The Integrator recently contacted the Institute for Functional Medicine for an update on a collaboration between the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. Uniquely, the project, designed and implemented by Cathy Snapp, PhD and Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, was funded first by the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and now by the State of Florida. The collaborative initiative seeks to integrate the principles of functional nutrition “with mind/body/spirit approaches to prevention and self-care as the basis of treatment” in both patient care and education. An early clinical focus was on treatment of repeat emergency room users. The educational component trained medical doctors “in chronic disease prevention using all the basic areas of the functional medicine matrix” and a component on “physician well-being.” IFM provided faculty, materials, and consultation.

The team has published some outcomes here showing moderate betterment in a population with diabetes. As part of the charge from the state of Florida as a funding agency, Snapp and DeBusk “have already provided training at a number of other academic medical centers in Florida and beyond, and have adapted the program to make it suitable for export to other kinds of organizations as well.” According to the report to the Integrator from IFM, DeBusk considers that “the umbrella for our longer-term focus is the MBTLC initiative (Mindfulness-based Therapeutic Lifestyle Change).” Such programs are presently in place and include patient wellness, employee wellness and physician wellness with the former two running 12 weeks and the latter 6 weeks. The team is currently working on a program for medical students. A previous report on the collaboration is here.

Comment: The original Integrator short article on this initiative noted the $1.2-million grant from Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the founding media release. Snapp, DeBusk and IFM are truly toiling in the vineyards here. While they speak of the importance of developing a laboratory of clinical practice, a lesson here is clearly that clinical energy will not move unless there are medical doctors grounded in self-care and training in mindfulness-based practices. This work brings to mind that of Elizabeth Goldblatt, PhD, MPA/HA of the Academic Consortium for Complementary Health Care and Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD to elevate health and well-being at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education. When and if the IOM should focus on this critical topic, the IFM-Tallahassee story should be fodder for discussion. This is the kind of innovation in health professional education we need.


Maryland University of Integrative Health and National College of Natural Medicine Announce Partnership

A bicoastal relationship was announced between two of the most dynamic multidisciplinary academic institutions for integrative health and medicine. On November10, 2014, Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) reported a partnership with Portland, Oregon-based National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM). The release on the relationship, which featured MUIH president Frank Vitale and NCNM president David Schleich, PhD, notes that the schools are “kindred spirits” in philosophy. Areas of prospective collaboration are broad and include faculty and curriculum development, research, and distance learning.

Comment: This is quite a combo. NCNM is the “mother ship” for the modern naturopathic medical profession. From the late 1950s until 1978 it was the only legitimate ND program in North America. Meantime, the taproot of MUIH is one of the first acupuncture programs in the United States, the policy active Tai Sophia Institute. Not directly mentioned in the release is an area of likely collaboration: a naturopathic medical program for MUIH. MUIH sent a team to the August 2014 meeting of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians to meet with that profession’s academic leaders. Notably, the same MUIH publication that noted the partnership also rolled out a plan for a massive MUIH campus expansion.


Bastyr Initiates MPH and Two Additional Public Health Degrees

Bastyr University has announced that starting in the fall of 2015 it will offer the first Master of Public Health degree program in a naturopathic-based university of natural medicine. The program announcement from Bastyr linked this offering to two additional programs in public health that are presented as “preparing students to create systemic change.” The two others are a Master of Arts in Maternal-Child Health and, at Bastyr’s San Diego campus, a Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness. The three new programs are part of the institution’s “growing focus on serving the health of communities.”

Comment: The conscious focus on preparing students as change agents and on the health of communities reflects a theme that was repeatedly present at the September 2014 policy day to honor retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. A wholistic perspective necessarily brings one out of the clinic to engage community health dimensions. These are legacy pieces for retiring Bastyr president Dan Church, PhD.