3 Reasons Integrative Medicine has Earned Greater Prominence in the U.S.

Integrative MedicineIntegrative Medicine’s rising prominence in the United States as a model of healthcare has a lot to do with gradually shifting societal attitudes about medicine. This is in keeping with the historical evolution of how medical care has been disseminated in the U.S. For example, in 1980, statistics showed that there were 17,788 practicing Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.) in the U.S. As of 2013, there were an estimated 82,146 osteopathic physicians in the U.S. The D.O. detractors of have become scarce, if not altogether silent.

Integrative Medicine may still have its skeptics, but the past decade has seen the field expand rapidly. The search for an explanation for that expansion starts with this common-sense, straightforward definition of Integrative Medicine: It is “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” What once was known loosely as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been expanded and “integrated” with the tested, mainstream medical practices that remain the foundation of the American healthcare system. This concept appeals to many American healthcare consumers.

Here are three reasons Integrative Medicine has risen to prominence in the U.S. during the past decade:

  • Philanthropy − The Bravewell Collaborative, formerly the Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, has helped raise tens of millions of dollars since the late 1990s to encourage the study and practice of the emerging field.
  • Approved fellowships and programs − Medical schools at many prestigious universities (Arizona, Duke, Michigan, Harvard, Yale and Stanford, to name a few) have begun to offer programs and fellowships that focus on the principles of Integrative Medicine. The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine now includes 57 academic medical centers, while more are joining every year.
  • Consumer demand − A 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health concluded that 38 percent of adult Americans sought CAM or Integrative Medicine for healthcare.

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) created and maintains the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) as a response, in part, to the growing demand by practicing Integrative Medicine physicians for a platform to achieve board certification. To learn more, or for further information about the emergence of Integrative Medicine as a distinct medical specialty, contact the ABPS. The ABPS is the official board-certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.


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Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine