Creating a New Generation of Doctors
In the early 1990s, Dr. Andrew Weil, a board certified, Harvard-trained physician was faced with a dilemma. For years, he had seen firsthand the value of treating his patients holistically, working to not only address existing injuries and illnesses, but also attempt to prevent avoidable conditions that tend to develop later in life. This was the origin of Integrative Medicine, which today is one of the fastest growing, most sought after medical specialties in the healthcare industry. Integrative Medicine, under Dr. Weil’s tutelage, takes a unique approach to patient care by combining the best practices of traditional, complementary, and alternative therapies to deliver the best possible health outcomes for the patient. However, the growth of Integrative Medicine didn’t happen overnight. First, Dr. Weil needed to train a new generation of health professionals who understand integrative medical philosophy. And so, in 1994, he opened the nation’s first Integrative Medicine program at the University of Arizona.
As Dr. Weil explains, his goal was to develop a curriculum in Integrative Medicine that would begin to introduce young physicians to a new way of thinking about medicine. While countless so-called “complementary” and “alternative” medicine techniques had long been popular among the American public, much of the mainstream, traditional healthcare community had been slow to embrace them. Integrative Medicine, on the other hand, prioritized identifying the best possible, least invasive treatment available for the patient, leaving the door open to any potential approach that could deliver the patient the results they required.
According to the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, “Integrative Medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically.” The goal is to find the ideal treatment plan for each patient. Since the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine opened, a new generation of physicians have been trained in the use of not only traditional medicine but also alternative therapies as well. As Dr. Weil explains, while the program in Arizona was the first to offer formal training, today “more than one-fifth of all medical schools in the United States” have an Integrative Medicine program.
At the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), we were approached by Dr. Weil to discuss validating the expertise and experience of Integrative Medicine physicians through a formal, standardized board certification process. As a result, we developed the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM®) – the nation’s first Member Board dedicated exclusively to providing board certification in this high-demand specialty. If you are part of the new generation of physicians trained in best practices of Integrative Medicine, contact the ABPS to learn about becoming board certified through the ABOIM.