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An ABOIM Diplomate’s Personal Journey into Integrative Medicine

Physician's Journey Into Integrative MedicineOver the course of her career, Dr. Amy Baruch, an Emergency Medicine physician at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, observed that the majority of her patients have multiple chronic medical issues. These are often paired with a long list of medications, often with their own side effects.  Intuitively, she knew that this was not optimal medical care and that lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and stress, was the key to unlocking these often-related disorders. This led Dr. Baruch to explore additional medical education with a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, the program started by Dr. Andrew Weil over 20 years ago.

The Fellowship at UA is inclusive of Western medicine and includes evidence-based practices in nutrition, supplements and botanicals, exercise, stress management, sleep medicine, spirituality, mind-body modalities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and guided imagery.  The Fellowship also explores other world health traditions including Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Sadly, six months into her fellowship, Dr. Baruch’s partner of five years died in a motorcycle accident. This personal tragedy ushered in a profound experience. Dr. Baruch discovered that by using patient-care practices she was learning, she could keep herself well, and by keeping herself well, she was able to take better care of her patients. “My self-compassion translated into more compassion for my patients,” Dr. Baruch says.

“Compassion is the critical ingredient to helping patients heal,” says Dr. Baruch, now a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM). “In Integrative Medicine, healing is possible even if curing is not.” By showing patients an exceptional level of attention and compassion, she says, the physician creates a connection that is absolutely critical to the healing process. This, in turn, “heals the healer.”

The ABOIM is a Member Board of the American Board of Physician Specialties ® (ABPS), whose Diplomates have remarkable stories like Dr. Baruch’s to share, stories from which patients and the medical community can draw hope and inspiration. If you would like to learn more about Integrative Medicine and the ABOIM, contact the ABPS – the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®