How Patients Benefit from Integrative Medicine

Michelle Thompson, DOOver the last several years, as more people have embraced a healthier lifestyle, integrative medicine has surged in popularity.  Despite that, many patients who would benefit from its scientifically-validated therapies, do not quite understand what the practice involves. At the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), we welcome the opportunity to educate the public about this emerging specialty. In fact, one of our Member Boards, the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM), is the only multi-specialty certifying board that offers integrative medicine certification.

Michelle Thompson, DO, an integrative and lifestyle family medicine physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a Diplomate of the ABOIM®, wants more people to understand how turning to integrative medicine can help them improve their health and prevent illness. “There is a distinction between lifestyle medicine and integrative medicine,” she says. “Lifestyle medicine emphasizes things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and meaningful relationships.

Integrative medicine takes it further by encompassing art therapy, aroma therapy, sound therapy, energy medicine, Reiki, tai chai, yoga, and more. It focuses on self-care and how the environment affects us. Basically, integrative medicine takes into account all aspects of a patient’s life. It emphasizes well care over sick care. Instead of simply relying on a pill as treatment, the integrative medicine practitioner focuses on the root cause of illnesses.”

Good medicine, Dr. Thompson says, should be based on good science, and all of the different integrative modalities are based on sound scientific evidence. For instance, science now shows us that there are more than 100 diseases that can be treated by changing one’s diet. “In the past, we didn’t’ consider this dietary approach to treatment,” she says.

Asked if there was a common thread to integrative medicine treatment, Dr. Thompson said, “I always   tell patients that I can’t care more about your health than you do.” To help patients, she educates them.  “Really, knowledge is power. I teach them the steps they can take to improve their lives, and when they realize that their health is in their hands, they feel more in control. They know that they now have the appropriate tools they need.”

However, lifestyle and dietary changes are not always easy to implement. So, Dr. Thompson works with her patients to help them incorporate these changes in their lives. As part of her practice, she works with a dietician and participates in community programs that teach patients how to implement healthy-living techniques so that they can take charge of their lives. Patients know that, in addition to applying different treatment modalities, they can also turn to the community and the healthcare system for help.

Dr. Thompson has seen a shift in health care that she attributes to the understanding that it’s much easier and less expensive to prevent disease through lifestyle changes than to treat diseases when they arise. Hypertension, diabetes, migraines, and much more can be improved with dietary and lifestyle changes, she says. The root cause of many diseases is diet and nutrition; next is stress.  And a healthier diet, as well as practices like meditation and mindful eating, can be the just the changes patients need to achieve optimal health.

The ABOIM recognizes Dr. Thompson as an exemplary advocate for its goal of helping patients by treating the root causes of health problems and not the symptoms. To learn more about the ABOIM, contact the ABPS today.

Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine