Integrative Medicine Board Certification: The Next Step for Integrative Medicine Fellows
Lance Luria, MD FACP, is an Integrative Healthcare Solutions consultant in Springfield, MO, who specializes in integrative medicine focusing on pain management for self-funded companies and other organizations that take financial risk. He previously served as vice president and chief medical officer at Mercy Care Management, part of Mercy Health, where he successfully integrated both health and wellness, and integrative medicine concepts within a managed care setting. He is president of the Institute of Integrative Pain Management, a 501c3 organization promoting provider education in integrative pain management.
Dr. Luria completed a fellowship from the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine under the chairmanship of Andrew Weil, MD, and went on to become board certified in the specialty at the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM®), which is governed by the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS).
“I was inspired to become an integrative medicine fellow after participating in a breakout session about integrative medicine at a conference,” Dr. Luria said. “I thought it was terrific, and after that, integrative medicine became a calling. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was open to it.”
Integrative medicine adds a fresh dimension to traditional medical practice, he says, but he emphasizes that integrative medicine fellowships and board certification are vital to the ongoing success of the specialty.
“Without board certification, integrative medicine would have no real standing in the medical industry,” he says.
An integrative medicine fellowship is like going to college, Dr. Luria explains. A fellowship exposes you to experts and gives you the education you need to sufficiently articulate the benefits of integrative medicine and then implement it in practice. “By becoming an integrative medicine fellow, I shaved about 20 years off the time I would have needed to gain the same amount of knowledge.”
When it comes to fellowships and board certification, he says it behooves you to work with organizations that have real standing among integrative medicine practitioners and in the medical community at large. According to Dr. Luria, working with a recognized certifying body that offers psychometrically evaluated testing assembled by experts “levels the playing field” because it provides fellows with the credibility necessary for integrative medicine to be accepted alongside mainstream medicine.
Being board certified in integrative medicine means you have the knowledge to discuss integrative medicine treatment with physicians in other specialties, Dr. Luria says.
As an example of how beneficial certification can be, he recalls his long experience in managed care. “When it comes to implementing an integrative medicine program, or any other program for that matter, you’ll never get a seat at the table unless you can convince the person who pays the organization’s bills.” Certification, he says, gives you the legitimacy to convince organizations about the cost efficiency of establishing an integrative medicine modality, whether it’s massage or acupuncture. With certification from a recognized and respected board, you have the standing to demonstrate that high-touch, low-tech treatment interventions are less expensive and can lead to better patient outcomes.
“In the future, to advance in your career, or if you want to set up a program, you’ll have to be board certified,” Dr. Luria says. “I would tell fellows considering certification with the ABOIM that the decision is really a no-brainer.”