The Birth of a New Specialty – Will Your Health Care Be Affected?

Health Alert 8

This year over 200 doctors endured the winter snow to assemble in Denver, Colorado for an historic meeting. They met to take an examination for accreditation by a body most Americans have never heard of. They took the first ever board exam in holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine has a different philosophical approach to health care. Instead of isolating and treating a disease, the focus remains on the patient as a whole person.

Approaches that are more natural are preferred over drugs and surgery.

There have been several thousand doctors practicing what they call “holistic medicine” for the last couple of decades. Its popularity among the public has been steadily rising. But there has been a lack of acceptance by traditional organized medicine.

*New Standards for Holistic Doctors *

The American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM) was founded in 1996. It was created to establish standards for practice and certification of holistic doctors. It will be some time before we know whether the Holistic Medicine Certification Examination will take its place among the 22 other medical specialties officially recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The effort to build support for such recognition has already begun.

The ABHM has developed a written “core philosophy” distinguishing it from other specialties. It has drafted a set of requirements for curriculums for residency training programs. Residency programs for new physicians will need to be established before official recognition will ever come.

The medical establishment has good reason to be conservative. After all, our advice is relied upon. Bad advice can do harm and betray the trust of our patients – even if good intentioned.

On the other hand, I believe well informed individuals should have the right to choose what they think is best for their own bodies.

I’m not a member of ABHM. Although I don’t doubt its power to heal, there reliance on mind-body medicine is not exactly my cup of tea. I prefer more tangible science that I can get both hands around. But I support most of what they are doing.

Decreasing our dependency on surgery is a good example. Doctors now seem to know that the 40,000 tonsillectomies done per year were a big mistake. Those children now have greater risk of serious respiratory infections as adults. But what about those 400,000 surgeries on the prostate still done every year? I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming letter but it appears to me….

We still have a long way to go.

Al Sears, MD