(NaturalNews) This article contains the thoughts of my colleague Felicia Briones-Colman, MD.
There is nothing more important than your health. Your health deeply affects every aspect of every day of your life. It determines if you can get up in the morning and how well you function during the day. The right physician can help you maintain or restore your health. So, finding a clinically competent physician who respects your personal beliefs is a decision to consider carefully.
Now more than ever, there is significant variety in health care professionals. Patient dissatisfaction with nearly a century of conventional medicine led to the rise of alternative approaches to health. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. Over the course of the last 20 years there has been a push for a new level of quality and caring in health care.
According to the 1998 Eisenberg study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 42% of Americans use some combination of complementary/alternative therapies in conjunction with conventional medicine. However, this change in the medical landscape is potentially more confusing to patients.
In response to the schism of conventional and alternative therapies, Integrative Medicine was born. This approach to medicine focuses on treatment of the whole person, not the disease. It involves exceptional clinical skills and extensive doctor-patient interactions. It also values the patients’ beliefs and philosophy towards health, allowing doctor and patient to work together to design a program to optimize patient well-being. Most important, Integrative Medicine incorporates a variety of healing philosophies generated from both conventional and alternative therapies, preventing patients from having to choose one over the other.
Until recently, patients were on their own in their search for qualified practitioners of Integrative Medicine. However, currently two distinguished programs, formed independently, are collaborating to develop a nationally recognized subspecialty of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Weil developed the first and most comprehensive academic curriculum in Integrative Medicine in 1994 at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (ACIM).
Almost simultaneously, the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) was co-founded by a number of visionary physicians in 1996. In 2005, the ABIHM joined forces with Scripps Integrative Medicine under the guidance of Mimi Guarneri, MD. Since 2000, the ABIHM has been the only board to provide a peer-reviewed, validated exam in comprehensive Integrative Medicine.
In October 2011 members of both the ABIHM and the ACIM formed the first American Board of Integrative Medicine and met to discuss the requirements for board certification. Board certification in medical subspecialties is a voluntary process in which doctors participate in additional training. While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific. Board certification demonstrates a physician’s commitment and exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.
The practice of Integrative Medicine is not just a philosophy, but an extensive body of knowledge applied to the individual patient. It requires knowledge about alternative therapies that are scientifically proven to be effective and which can cause harm. There are possible interactions between herbal remedies and pharmaceutical medications. If your doctor does not have the expertise in this practice, you are at risk of negative outcomes. As the practice of Integrative Medicine evolves and expands in the scope of practice, a doctor who is board certified provides assurance of excellence.
Felicia Briones-Colman, MD is board certified in both Internal Medicine and the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
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