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In academic medical centers promoting transformation toward integrative medicine and health, nurse leadership is rare. So is branding them with “spiritual” and “healing”. The usual chess game of change-making focuses on moving RCTs and systematic reviews like pawns to gain an advantage. Honoring the full professional value of licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors and others is also rare. Most find it easier to gain the support of a dean by reducing such professionals to tools to deploy instead of as interprofessional partners. This year marks the 25th anniversary of an institution that modeled a road less traveled that included these and other distinctive, inclusive traits. The founder-director is nurse and health services researcher Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD, FAAN. I reached her for a long-overdue profile of a center that a close observer of the field has called “one of the most important centers globally for advancing integrative health.”
In a recent conference organized out of Prague and moved online, a presenter from the United Kingdom shared a list of concerns that seemed to go on forever of all that is frightening people these days. Foremost on his list were Covid19, what seem to many like authoritarian governmental measures to control its spread, uncertainty about the economy, and the questionable competence of world leaders in the face of a mounting global crisis. In the United States, these are compounded by unrest over police brutality against Black people forcing many to re-examine the legacy of 400 years of what historians call our “peculiar institution” of slavery. Author and clinician James Lake MD is an integrative psychiatrist who has witnessed the effects of this “perfect storm” close up. For Psychiatry Times, Lake authored a column on what he calls A Mental Health Pandemic: The Second Wave of COVID-19. He urged a re-think of typical mental health responses to include integrative solutions in his “Call for a National Strategy.” I reached Lake to explore what has steered his vision to make such dire predictions, and to explore how integrative methods might best figure into solutions.
News feeds for the natural products and integrative health practitioner fields have in recent weeks included a drumbeat of alerts on actions of the Food and Trade Commission (FTC) on what the agency considers inappropriate claims relative to COVID-19. A major natural health organization blasted the FTC’s efforts as practitioner gagging and censorship and is mounting a campaign to stop the activity. Others in these fields point to bullseyes some practitioners and companies have painted on their foreheads via gross over claims (“this mushroom will cure your COVID”) that laser-guide FTC’s actions. At a sober center amidst a tangle of issues – state/federal jurisdiction, free speech, provider-patient relationship, and the peculiar institution of in-office sales of natural products – sit Laura Farr and Rob Kachko, ND. They are the executive director and president, respectively, of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). Among the multiple questions is whether naturopathic doctors and others in integrative medicine are “canaries in the coal mine” of a new, potentially widening push by the FTC and other federal and state agencies into the regulation of integrative and functional medicine practitioner offices.