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A Passion for Integrative Medicine

Arti Prasad, MD“Leadership was my mother’s gift to me,” said Arti Prasad, MD, a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM). “She didn’t have much formal education, but she was a leader at home, in the community, for my family, and for my extended family.”

Today, her mother’s desire for all her children to be well educated is an impressive reality. Dr. Prasad’s brothers are engineers, her sister is a geography professor, and Dr. Prasad is the chief of internal medicine for Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, MN. It’s the latest stop in an accomplished career for the woman born in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Trained as a physician at Ghandi Medical College in Bhopal, India, Dr. Prasad immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. Before she came to Minneapolis, she was chief of general internal, geriatrics, and integrative medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. There, she founded the university’s Center for Life, which is focused on holistic and integrative medicine.  Dr. Prasad said that when Hennepin Healthcare contacted her, she was not in the job market, and leaving sunny Albuquerque for frigid Minnesota was hardly an attractive proposition. “Why do you need me?” she asked.

We’re were looking for a leader and a change agent, they said.

“I asked myself, ‘What do you want to do with the next 10 years of your life? Can you take this on?’ And I decided I could.”

As one of only a handful of women heading an internal medicine department at a major teaching/research institution, Dr. Prasad wants no less than to transform integrative medicine so that it becomes infused throughout the healthcare system. “We don’t just need early detection of diseases,” she said. “We need true prevention before the disease has started to show up, and that means we need to learn how to eat well, live more naturally, and practice self-care.”

Integrative medicine takes into account all aspects of a person’s life and emphasizes treating the whole person. So, rather than focusing on one organ system, integrative medicine treatment addresses the emotional, functional, spiritual, and socials aspects of a person’s well-being. Thus, treatment can incorporate a variety of appropriate and evidence-based therapies and disciplines, including meditation, bodywork, acupuncture, stress management, exercise, and dietary changes.

In short, an integrative medicine practitioner embraces the treatment that is best suited to achieve optimal health and healing. That may mean using conventional therapy, therapy that might be considered “alternative” by some, or a combination of therapies.

One of Dr. Prasad’s areas of specialty is integrative oncology, focusing not only on cancer patients but also survivors of acute cancer treatments, who often still need to heal in mind and spirit. “I work with them to address gaps in cancer care,” she said. “That’s the healing work I do. I love it.”

If you find Dr. Prasad’s work inspirational and would like to broaden your knowledge of integrative medicine through board certification, contact the American Board of Physician Specialties®, of which the ABOIM is a Member Board. As a nationally recognized choice for physician board certification, we offer certification in a range of specialties.