Caught up in a movement, one likes to assign causality to explain advances. A pressure applied in one place brings movement in the other. The set of collaborating entities manage to get to a policy table and push something positive through. A story begins to accumulate. Yet a close reading finds also influences of what that ancients might have called fate. The New Age may associate these with intention. I enjoy thinking of these as serendipity. I have accumulated a few favorites for the integrative health and medicine field. They begin with the circumstance of my own connection. None is more striking than that which I encountered in a new publication on the influential Wilk vs. the AMA trial that muzzled the AMA’s worst bigotry toward non-pharma approaches. It turns out that L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, may be credited with opening the integrative era.
In late September, the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) sent out a notice to its list to celebrate the 80th birthday of perhaps its most honored male elder, Bill Manahan, MD. Manahan’s story dates back to a founding membership meeting of a predecessor to the AIHM, the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), 40 years ago. One of Manahan’s most powerful areas of impact is an AIHM priority: sewing interprofessional respect. He’s worked to pry open the MD guild – which proved necessary even in the MDs’ “holistic” form. Manahan has been a mentor to countless practitioners and other functionaries in the holistic health and integrative medicine movement, including me. I thought his birthday was a good excuse to re-connect and explore a couple pieces of his rich history in the field – specifically the inter-professional work and the remarkable Minnesota group he has managed for 40 years.
The most gripping moment for me was quite private after my spouse suggested that we don our COVID masks and join some 5000 others at City Hall on day 6 of Seattle’s demonstrations against police violence against black people, and for massive systemic change. We were sitting on the curb during a break in the action. We were quite aware of how little we know and understand, even with the mentoring of a 24-year-old daughter who is hypersensitive to race issues. We leaned in close to each other as the mixed crowd of humans, nearer our daughter’s age than to our own, milled about. The course of our conversation led us to try to imagine needing to have had “the conversation” 15 or 20 years ago with our now 28 year old son, were we black, and he a young black man coming of age. That being his ritual welcome into adulthood.
The easy access by medical doctors to accredited continuing medical education in integrative medicine is an engine of the field’s growth. So as stories emerged of what was believed to be an Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) clamp down, I engaged a series of interviews and reports. I reported direct and indirect assurances from ACCME’s CEO Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc that integrative medicine is not being targeted. Yet a recent commentary from leaders of the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine raised the question again. I decided to review evidence to this date. I cannot but conclude that integrative medicine is, in fact, at the center of the bullseye in ACCME’s recent push for new standards of “content validity” regarding “controversial areas”. Here is the evidence.