The past 20 years witnessed the expansion of a new type of institution in academic health care – and specifically in integrative health and medicine: multidisciplinary universities with professional degrees in multiple natural health fields. Variously denominated as universities of “natural health sciences” or “health sciences” or “integrative health” or merely as “university,” these 7 institutions were each founded as single purpose colleges to educate chiropractors, naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists. They expanded to include other disciplines, degrees and certifications. Many have played important roles in the integrative health movement. All sit at the intersection of two fields in turmoil: health care and higher education. I interviewed the presidents of each to access their vantage points. This overview is a first in a two-part series.
The principle of using the least invasive methods first – a corollary of “first do no harm” – is central to integrative health and medicine. Also core is the idea of patient-centered, functionally-oriented outcomes. Each of these principles is being chucked out the window as the FDA is systematically removing multiple natural agents from an approved list for compounding pharmacists.
The evolution of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) began in the 1930s with a founding focus on a single emerging modality and now boasts a position as the largest multidisciplinary-centered rehabilitation organization in the country. ACRM was first a medical academy for x-ray therapy, broadened to more physical therapies, then focused in on physical medicine, and finally extended outward again to address both physical and psychological issues. Core disciplines are medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychology. The door is not shut. Anyone can join.
The co-founder of the Evolution of Medicine/Functional Forum, James Maskell, is a non-stop communicator and marketeer. He operates at the visionary edges of the integrative and functional medicine worlds. Business success. Health coaching. Blue Zones and zip-codes. Root-causes. The employer stakeholder. The “micropractice.”