Knowledge of Integrative Medicine

Theresa Oswald, MD, an integrative medicine physician and Diplomate of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), has spent many years studying ways to optimize the health and wellness of her patients in mind, body, and spirit. She has also been a lifelong student of yogic sciences as well as meditative and contemplative traditions. Like these ancient traditions, she says, integrative medicine has actually been around for centuries, except that it was known by other names.

In the 1970s and 80s integrative medicine was called holistic medicine, Dr. Oswald explains, because it treats the whole person, not just disease processes. But because the name didn’t suggest anything about the treatment protocols, it turned out to be less than ideal. In the 80s and 90s, integrative medicine was called complementary or alternative medicine. But this implied that the practice was in opposition to regular or conventional medicine, when in actuality it has a broader scope that includes conventional medicine, and using “alternative” or “complementary” in the name also fell out favor.

The name “integrative medicine” was developed to more accurately describe the practice, which integrates conventional medicine with ancient healing traditions and other natural ways of healing. But Dr. Oswald just prefers to call it good medicine. “Because it’s not in opposition to conventional medicine,” she says, “integrative medicine uses all the treatment options appropriate for any disease process, from surgery to other invasive procedures to simple things like breathing or touching as healing modalities.”

Dr. Oswald notes that integrative medicine prefers options that are less invasive. So, when a doctor is deciding between two treatment options – for example, prescription meds that may have side effects versus a diet with the potential for supplements – if there is evidence to show that both options are helpful, then the doctor would use the less invasive, and often less costly, option.

Far from being in opposition to conventional medicine, integrative medicine is inclusive of all evidence-based healing strategies, and integrative medicine practitioners can consider myriad treatment options. Traditions like Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, Reiki, music therapy, art therapy, herbal medicine, journal therapy, and breathing and relaxation therapy, all have their place in integrative medicine. No therapy would be right for every patient, of course, because people are different. So a set of healing suggestions for one person may be unsuitable for someone else with similar symptoms but a different social context, temperament, or constitution.

Essentially, “integrative medicine meets people where they are” to offer options for their health struggles, Dr. Oswald says. Integrative medicine providers come into play when conventional medicine has no proven treatment for a patient’s condition, or a patient has tried every treatment option in conventional practice and still exhibits symptoms.

The ABPS agrees with Dr. Oswald’s assertion that having more wellness tools in our toolbox is always helpful, and supports her goals of promoting healthy living and wellness through an integrative approach to health care. The ABPS is the only multi-specialty board in the United States that offers physician certification in integrative medicine. For more information about this emerging specialty, contact the ABPS.

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