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 US medical industry has a motivation problem when it comes to the central role of food in health. Kale does not emit a flock of attractive sales people to detail doctor offices. Organics lack the financial clout to fund JAMA. Brown rice gets failure grades on inviting doctors to conferences in tropical zones. Fruits and vegetables seem to have missed out entirely on the whole marketing side of competing with the pharma-device predilections of the $3.3-trillion medical industry.
Beth Frates, MD recalls her first effort, ten years ago, to give students at Harvard Medical School more grounding in lifestyle medicine: “I met with my Dean and explained how I would bring [the material] to them. He was all enthusiastic. He told me he loved what I was doing. Then he said: ‘We can’t possibly do this right now.’” Frates’ excitement cycled high then hit the cellar.