One of the strengths of the integrative healthcare movement is its inclusiveness. It represents a dizzying array of healing arts & sciences–some quite ancient, others of recent origin—all sharing a general orientation toward non-invasive, non-drug treatments and a history of evolving outside of conventional allopathy.
But beyond a handful of core principles and shared “outsider” status, what do Ayurvedic doctors have in common with doctors who do chelation? Do nutritionists really have common cause with acupuncturists? Does an MD who uses herbs feel collegial toward a chiropractor interested in environmental toxicity?
There are many “tribes” in integrative medicine, and relations between them are not always friendly. Each has its own professional organizations. Each struggles to define its identity and scope of practice, to forward the interests of its constituents, and to stake a place in the larger health care landscape.
Shared Values, Diverse Agendas
Despite considerable overlap on core values, there has been little interdisciplinary collaboration among the various integrative medical associations, and even less coherence in working together for a common political agenda. No single group has emerged with the sort of membership numbers or financial resources that make policy-makers stop and take notice.
Fragmentation and lack of collaboration are not unique to “alternative” medicine; interdisciplinary turf wars characterized conventional medicine practically since it’s inception. Mainstream medicine fell prey to machinations of payors in part because of lack of cooperation between physicians’ groups.
The Integrative Medicine Consortium, a loose federation of 7 distinct organizations, is creating a locus of cohesion for the holistic/integrative movement. Next Spring, the consortium will launch iMosaic, a unique and historic joint conference that will bring together 4 of the 7 IMC associations: the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), and the International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM). The meeting will be held on April 6-10 in Minneapolis.
Lisa Lundy, the consortium’s outreach coordinator and “Head Mom in Charge,” told Holistic Primary Care that it is no easy task to coordinate and harmonize the agendas of 4 distinct groups, each with its own history, culture and specific interests. But the groups recognize the potential benefits of coming together.
“Though each of the 4 organizations has its own niche and areas of interest, in reality there is a lot of overlap in membership. Many doctors who are members of one group are also members of the others. All of the annual meetings were suffering attrition because doctors were having to choose between them, especially in these hard economic times when time demands are increasing and travel budgets are tight.”
The aptly named iMosaic conference will provide tremendous value for attendees, offering 4.5 days of plenary sessions, breakouts, and workshops on a diverse range of subjects including: diagnosis and treatment of food sensitivities, IV nutrition therapy, heavy metal toxicology, recognition of inhalant allergies, new approaches to endocrine problems, chelation therapy, treatment of chemical sensitivities and more.
IMC, which formed 3 years ago, has a deeper mission to create a “big tent” under which a diverse community of like-minded practitioners can find quality education, collegial connections, and opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration. The goal is not necessarily to create a new organization, but to foster coherence and cooperation between the diverse constituencies.
In this sense, IMC’s work parallels that of another consortium—the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM), convened roughly 10 years ago, to create a common framework for integrative medical training in the nation’s medical schools.
The iMosaic meeting is an important step forward for all the groups involved, and Holistic Primary Care is happy to be participating as a media sponsor. We look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis next Spring! For more information visit: www.imosaicconference.com.