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Integrative Holistic Medicine: ABHM's Lipsenthal on Why Only MDs Teach for the Board Certification PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Integrative Holistic Medicine: ABHM's Lipsenthal on Why Only MDs Teach for the Board Certification

Summary: Following a recent notice on the upcoming Scripps/American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM) conference, I commented on the emergence of the "integrative holistic doctor." I then noted how the educational content which leads to certification by the ABHM is delivered entirely by MDs. I asked if this is appropriate since the mission and principles statements associated with both Scripps and ABHM speak directly to the importance of being able to work with practitioners from other disciplines and systems. Lee Lipsenthal, MD, an ABHM board member wrote back with some explanations.

Introductory Note

integrative medicine, holistic medicine, ABHM, CAM
ABHM - certifying integrative holistic medicine
I recently wrote
a brief article on a conference which reflects the confluence of two streams in the changing nature of clinical practice for medical doctors. One sponsor of the conference is the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, a leading player in the "integrative medicine" field. The other is the American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM), the agency which certifies doctors in "holistic medicine." The hybrid "integrative holistic doctor" appears to be emerging.

However, as I noted in a comment, this unification movement among MDs appears to see no need to include information about, or experience of, practitioners from other disciplines. I jumped to this conclusion by reviewing the all MD speaker panel. I then noted that the
mission and principles associated with these groups would suggest, however, an unfilled responsibility to know and work with licensed natural healthcare practitioners from other disciplines and systems such as chiropractic, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, naturopathic medicine and massage therapy.

I was pleased to receive a good response from Lee Lipsenthal, MD. Lipsenthal is an ABHM board member whose passion the past few years has been to bring the "holistic" and "integrative" together. Here is Lipsenthal's response. He copied it to his fellow ABHM board members when he sent it in.

On the Evolution of the American Board of Holistic Medicine and Its
Relationships with Integrative and CAM Disciplines

- Lee Lipsenthal, MD, Board Member, ABHM

holistic medicine, integrative medicine, CAM
Lee Lipsenthal, MD, ABHM board member
I noticed your comment in the last blog and wanted to respond to two of the points you raised. The ABHM was established as a credentialing body in Holistic Medicine in the late 90's. The goal was to establish a baseline of information and practice style which would support the patient and the physician in a holistic way.We now have over 1000 Diplomates (graduates, if you will). They are MDs and DOs from all over the US, Puerto Rico and Canada.

The teaching staff was established as a physician base because the goal was sub-specialty recognition (ABHMS). We believed that we would have a better chance with a physician-based faculty. This is why the lack of diversity. This however, may change in the future.

The introduction of the word 'integrative' into our course title happened 3 years ago. Integrative is more commonly recognized in the physician community than holistic and in many ways supports our mission. From my perspective (shared by much of our board), integrative is about the tools and techniques we use while holistic refers more to the way in which we approach our patients as partners in healing.

Changing the organization's name takes a bit more thought than a course name. You may be happy to know that your comments have stimulated great discussions amongst our board.

None-the-less, my 'brief' comments. Keep up the good work and it would be great for you to experience our program in October. Until then, or the next time we see each other, all the best!

Lee Lipsenthal, MD, ABHM
Board member, ABHM
Comment: Excellent background, especially on the lack of diversity in the program content, and very pleasing to see the potential for change. My own view is that all the disciplines would do well to understand better each other's potential contributions and short-comings, This can only happen if we are in the same rooms with each other. All of medicine is stressing the importance of collaboration and teamwork between practitioners. Integration of other content providers from the natural healthcare fields is a great area if our "integrative holistic" brothers and sisters to model quality practice. 

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