On February 25-27, 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened the “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public” in Washington, DC, to advance the science, understanding, and progress of integrative medicine (“health care that addresses together the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of the healing process”).
I’ll cut right to the chase—I have a problem with the term “integrative medicine,” and I’m glad to report that I wasn’t alone. On day one a number of the 650 diverse practitioners chimed in about the lack of inclusiveness in that terminology. Dr. Beverly Malone, the CEO of the National League for Nursing, voiced a strong statement that the term was not inclusive and requested that “integrative health care” be used instead. She reminded everyone of the historically critical role nursing and other health care professionals have played in the development of this model of care. By the end of the meeting the consensus was that the field should be called integrative health—not CAM, not integrative medicine. We’ll see.
The only nurse presenter. Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, founder and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing, professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota, and a member of the editorial board of AJN, was the only nurse presenter out of 40. There were no nurses on the two-year planning committee. Kreitzer had testified the day before to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on health care reform. Key points from her remarks include the need for care models that shift orientation from disease to well-being, a restructuring of reimbursement, and the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to deliver 80% of primary care nationally. She ended with a bold innovative model—partner federally funded community health centers with schools of nursing and other educational institutions (e.g., Chinese medicine/acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic) across the country to create a comprehensive, integrative health care model. This dynamic relationship could provide patients access to care, sites for research, and an incubator for transforming professional health education.
It was suggested that nursing should be represented on the planning committee. It’s time to act to shift the current U.S. health care system from one that is disease oriented and physician-centric. Let’s take this to the next level. Nurses can foster innovation and create models of care and be equal partners invested in reforming health care.
—Barbara Glickstein, MPH, MS, RN, is an independent broadcast journalist in NYC and a member of the board of Project Kesher. She is also on the editorial board of the American Journal of Nursing, where in November 2008 she wrote an article on human trafficking.