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ACCAHC: Historic, Multi-Disciplinary CAM Educator Project Announces Grant, Exec Change, Dues Basis PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

ACCAHC: Historic, Multi-Disciplinary CAM Educator Project Announces Grant, Exec Change, Dues-Basis and Move to Independence

Summary:  In early 2004, a new entity emerged on the integrated healthcare scene, the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC). In the ensuing three years under the direction of Pamela Snider, ND, ACCAHC has made significant strides in the areas of education, research and policy as an action-oriented multi-disciplinary project. Born and nurtured as part of the 501c4 Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), ACCAHC is now taking steps toward its independence as a stand-alone, dues-based and grant-supported 501c3 entity. This article notes ACCAHC accomplishments, an executive director transition and plans for a $30,000 grant from the organization's founding backer, Lucy Gonda. For more on ACCAHC, go to www.ihpc.info and click on ACCAHC.
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From ACCAHC, January 2007Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, the chair of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) is effusive in his praise of the work of ACCAHC’s founding executive director, Pamela Snider, ND. Snider will step down from her position after three years, but stay on ACCAHC’s executive committee.

Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, ACCAHC's founding chair
Says Phillips: “Pamela built a multi-disciplinary team and a safe, disciplined, respectful, and exciting context for us to collaborate. Thanks to her patient efforts, for the first time in history, organizations representing all of the leading complementary health care professions have chosen to pay dues to an organization – ACCAHC – which will allow us to collaborate with each other and with conventional educators in advancing our missions. That Pamela has pulled this off says a lot about what she has accomplished.”

ACCAHC was founded in March 2004 as an initiative of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) and in the context of the National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care: Creating Common Ground (NED). Start-up funding, which supported Snider’s organizing efforts into early 2006, came mainly through a single donor, Lucy Gonda.

Sample ACCAHC Action under Snider’s Direction 2004-2006

  • Organized CAM educators from the chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and oriental medicine, massage therapy and direct-entry (homebirth) midwifery fields and emerging professions for their participation in the National Education Dialogue (NED).
  • Successfully sought a more inclusive change in the definition of integrative medicine used by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM). (See article in the American Hospital Association's Hospitals and Health Networks here.)
  • Held the first ACCAHC participant retreat.
  • Participated in the NED Values Working Group.
  • Successfully secured grants, with NED, from the ArKay Foundation and the George Family Foundation to develop resources which will support educators in multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration.
  • Successfully secured a grant from the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to engage a survey and develop resources which will support competencies in integrated health care setting.


  • Carried out modified Delphi research project on competencies in integrative medicine and presented findings at the North American Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine in May 2006.
  • Participated with NED in a survey of conventional and CAM educators on the extent of inter-institutional relationships
  • Asked by CAHCIM to serve on steering committee for a 2008 North American research conference.


  • Joined forces with the Coalition for Patients Rights to oppose the efforts of the American Medical Association to restrict the scopes of practices of other professions.
  • Supported efforts of the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education to maintain its recognition with the US Department of Education.

Snider will be succeeded as interim director by her close collaborator in the founding of both the National Education Dialogue (NED) and of ACCAHC, John Weeks. Weeks, publisher-editor of the Integrator Blog News & Reports, served as NED’s founding director.

ACCAHC Core Participation

Pamela Snider, ND, honored for her work as ACCAHC's founding executive director
ACCAHC’s core participation was through representatives of the councils of colleges and accrediting agencies of the five disciplines with federally-recognized accrediting agencies. These are chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, naturopathic medicine and direct-entry midwifery. ACCAHC has also maintained a category of membership for traditional world medicines and emerging professions, such as Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic medicine.

Snider, who plans to remain on the ACCAHC executive team, reflects on the work:  “Many of us have noted our shared issues and a common vision for transforming health care and for health creation as educators and professionals for years – especially in the context of the wider move toward integrating care. As our relationships in ACCAHC deepened and our agenda clarified, we began to realize that what we were creating was not a time-limited project but an organization which could be a uniquely effective part of the health care and educational landscape for years to come.”

In July of 2006, ACCAHC’s participants formally decided to begin a transition out from IHPC and become a self-sustaining, dues-based organization. Says Phillips: "We have benefited throughout from IHPC's self-definition which has comfortably allowed a project to be born within IHPC but then spread its wings and sets down roots as an independent organization. It's a remarkable relationship."

Dues Structure and Current Committed Members

ACCAHC developed as an IHPC project
A dues structure was established with a suggested level of $1000-$5000 per year based on the size of an organization. ACCAHC also clarified additional membership features: certifying agencies of recognized professions would be invited as core members; mechanisms were clarified through which traditional world and emerging professions would be represented; and a single college membership category ($250).

Membership solicitation began in 2006. Decision are linked to meeting dates and budget cycles of potential members. The following organization have committed to becoming dues-paying members as of January 2007:

  • American Massage Therapy Association – Council of Schools
  • Association of Chiropractic College
  • Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Council on Naturopathic Medical Education
  • International Association of Yoga Therapists
  • Midwifery Education Accreditation Commission
  • National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Four individual programs – 2 AOM, 1 DC, 1 ND

Gonda Donation to Facilitate 2007 Retreat, “Hot Spots”, Independence

ACCAHC chair Phillips notes that ACCAHC’s move toward becoming an independent 501c3 charitable organization is based on a business model for ACCAHC that is part dues and part grants. Says Phillips: “We know that the robust agenda developed by our member educators cannot be managed based on dues payments. We will seek focused grants and the assistance of some visionary philanthropists who can see how collaboration between educators of these disciplines can advance healthcare."

ACCAHC received good news on this front in late December when the organization’s founding donor, Lucy Gonda, chose to make a $30,000 grant to support’s ACCAHC’s work.  Gonda says her donation honors the decisions of ACCAHC organizations to begin paying membership dues, and the hard work of the ACCAHC executive team under Snider’s direction. 

The Gonda funds are expected to support four ACCAHC initiatives. One is a member retreat. Second is the costs associated with the move to independence. A third is a booklet resource presently underway on the disciplines. The fourth is a retreat in which a small, multi-disciplinary group will begin, in an organized way, to explore new ways to approach some of the “hot spots” where the ACCAHC member disciplines have sometimes been in conflict.

Transition to Independence and New Executive Director

David O'Bryon, part of IHPC team which created ACCAHC
Snider’s decision to leave was prompted by her need to work full-time on a core project for her profession for which she serves as organizer and executive editor, the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, whose academic home is the National College of Natural Medicine, Portland Oregon. The international collaborative project involves 170 contributors from 6 countries and 9 colleges, and includes a series of symposia, conferences and working groups leading to an in-depth textbook to be published by Elsevier on the foundations, the philosophy and their clinical application for naturopathic medicine. (See interview here.)

Snider, who co-led the naturopathic medical profession’s effort to create its definition and principles twenty years ago, co-conceived the project after she a contracted to write a book on her profession: “We believe this project can have a significant and positive influence on the future of naturopathic medicine. Much as I love working collaboratively with other disciplines, this must be the focus of my work now.” She adds that she looks forward to continuing to support ACCAHC as a volunteer with the executive committee.

Sheila Quinn, IHPC board chair had key role in ACCAHC's birth
Weeks, who is serving ACCAHC in an interim capacity, is a long-time national leader of collaborative efforts in the integrated care arena. He has worked closely with Snider on ACCAHC’s development since the beginning and is also fund-raised the initial support for the IHPC on whose steering committee he sits. Phillips, ACCAHC’s chair, notes that “the whole ACCAHC group feels lucky to have John step in” during this transition.

Phillips makes a special point of noting how indebted ACCAHC is to IHPC for “laboring and giving birth to us.” He particularly credits the work of Janet Kahn, PhD, IHPC executive director, Sheila Quinn, IHPC’s board chair and David O'Bryon, JD, IHPC's chair for its Education Task Force. Phillips states that ACCAHC anticipates continuing to work closely with IHPC through the transition process, and after independence “to move policy changes that will create better health for the people we serve through advancing integrated healthcare.”
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