ABIHM Offers Perspective on Integrative Medicine’s Evolution

After reading the article titled, For Integrative Doctors, A New Turn in the Road for Specialty Recognition,  in the Fall edition of HPC, it is clear that the developments in our field have generated some controversy and misunderstanding.

With an alphabet soup of organizations with similar missions, one is bound to be confused! Here we offer some clarification for readers who may be left with more questions than answers.

The ABIHM has offered the only peer reviewed, psychometrically validated exam in comprehensive integrative holistic medicine since 2000, setting a standard for knowledge of integrative holistic medicine for MD’s and DO’s as an independent board.

The American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABoIM) is the emerging board that is overseen by the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), and will require a fellowship level of training in Integrative Medicine to sit for their exam.

In recognition of the new standard being set by the ABoIM, the ABIHM is discontinuing its board certification exam exclusive to MDs and DOs after February 2014. However, the ABIHM will continue to offer Maintenance of Certification to ABIHM Diplomates, expand our CME programs, and provide certification in integrative holistic medicine to health professionals. Our Annual Conference will also continue.

abihm_logoIn short, ABIHM is growing, changing, and definitely not going away!

As of late-September, over 350 attendees from 38 states and 3 countries have registered for our annual conference in November.  One-quarter of them are repeat attendees, and we are anticipating a full-to-capacity event.

In addition to our two preconference options: Bringing Integrative Medicine to Your Practice and Health Care System OR Nutritional Medicine with Alan Gaby, MD, ABIHM, the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) is hosting a post-conference, The Healer Within: Cultivating Your Resiliency in Health Care with Daniel Friedland, MD, ABIHM, and our ABIHM Certification Exam is offered on November 8th.

New this year: We are thrilled to be offering four half-day focused tracks by Joe Pizzorno, ND, Donald Abrams, MD, Mimi Guarneri, MD, FACC, ABIHM, and Sanford Levy, MD, ABIHM, & David Riley, MD.  I wish I could be in two places at once!

Though I am always awestruck by the scholarly and engaging quality of the lectures, what feeds my soul year after year is a familiar experience of camaraderie and fellowship that breathes life and purpose into the conference. That sense of connection is one of the many benefits of being a Diplomate of the ABIHM.

Being a Diplomate can also help ABoIM candidates sit for that exam without having to complete a fellowship. Of a necessary 500 points for an ABoIM fellowship waiver, being an Active ABIHM Diplomate will provide 200 points, and the remainder can be gathered from Integrative Medicine CME credits and practice experience by the end of 2016.

Though both the ABoIM and the ABIHM have been criticized by those who suggest that MDs and DOs are making “a power grab, seeking a new marketing edge” as the article stated, it is important to understand that the goal is to establish a standard of knowledge for MDs and DOs only. We have never sought to determine competency for other health professionals; that role belongs to the boards that oversee those disciplines. The ABIHM aims to bring integrative holistic medicine to conventional medicine, not to control it, or take over other professions that are already holistic by nature!

One of my favorite mantras is, “you are more than your genes.” Lifestyle and environment determine your health and well-being, not prescription medication. Though this statement feels intuitively obvious, most of us are deeply entrenched in a model of healthcare that continues to treat disease without getting to the underlying cause.

We at ABIHM believe we have found a better model. Integrative Holistic Medicine embraces the whole person: body, mind, emotions and spirit. Instead of just treating symptoms, we are focused on getting to the underlying cause of health challenges. I feel deeply grateful to my teachers and mentors of Integrative Holistic Medicine for clearly showing me that we can pave the road to health and healing. We now have access to a large body of scientific evidence, natural and supportive therapies, and well trained professionals from a multitude of disciplines. This knowledge base and interdisciplinary spirit will be essential in finding solutions to transforming the health of our nation.

Though we are officially ending our Board Certification Exam for MDs and DOs after our final two upcoming exams, physician Diplomates of the ABIHM will continue to carry a powerful seal of approval, whether they move on to become certified by the ABoIM or not. As we shift toward a more preventive approach to medicine, ABIHM will continue to play a key role in educating health care providers on how to translate the science of health into practice.

Our Annual Conference, The Science and Clinical Application of Integrative Holistic Medicine, held in St. Petersburg, FL, Nov 3rd-7th, is an opportunity to transform your practice of medicine and explore healing modalities that extend way beyond drugs and surgery. Join us–we look forward to connecting and being the change we want to see.

If you have specific questions about the ABIHM and the direction of Integrative Holistic Medicine, please contact the ABIHM office at admin@abihm.org or call 218-525-5651.


Nancy Sudak, MD,

Executive Director,

American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM)

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