Just back from a truly wonderful Australasian Integrative Medical Association (AIMA) conference in NZ.  I don’t know what it is about the land of the long white cloud but they seem to produce some of the loveliest, most earnest health practitioners and this conference reflects this, setting itself apart each year as a result of its very organic mix of speakers (general practitioners, naturopaths, nurses, specialists) who are all equally embraced and lauded. To boot we had medical students invited to attend this year and guess what, these 20 or so med students…they stayed for the full weekend much to everyone’s surprise(!), loved it and want more. Really.  At the AIMA NZ conference, on the two occasions I have spoken, I feel a sense of coming home…no I don’t mean I am about to move there (too cold!!) but I mean coming home to integrative medicine.

You see I think for many of us, I think the notion of integrative medicine hasn’t really delivered.

Other words for integration are consolidation, unification, incorporation, amalgamation and I would argue that this remains a very rare experience for practitioners and patients out there in the health landscape. There are a lot of professionals, of all persuasions, practising as silos. On a very practical level I would argue that naturopaths generally are being grossly under-utilised in terms of their capacity for collaboration with other health professionals to deliver and support patients via their specialty knowledge, whether that be herbal, nutritional or lifestyle medicine.

 Is it just me or is ‘integrative medicine’ in most instances being contrived into the one practitioner who purports to be ‘across it all’ and ‘do a bit of everything’?

Maybe that sits well with some practitioners & some patients.  For myself, I have always hoped for more.  The reason I can dig so deep into my crazy nerd like fascination of biochemistry and nutrition is because I don’t have to also be ‘across’ and retain all the other vast amounts of critical information that a doctor or a psychologist or another specialist has to.

I am excited by the prospect of an integrative medicine model in which each of us really do contribute our specialty to ultimately create an approach to health that is best practice and, dare I say it holistic and I am pleased to say that I think this change is coming.

I think one of the first steps is being able to have a conversation about what is and isn’t working in the current model both within each individual health professional group and then between.   I think this is starting to happen.  I hear a lot of whispers that speak to this from KOL on all sides of the fence and I hope that with the Australian Naturopathic Summit (ANS), we have created an important platform for naturopaths to discuss, debate and detail who we are as a professional community and how we need to create change in this context.  I hope so.

Where did this rant come from? I’m asking myself right now.  This isn’t what I had intended to sit down and write about. But you know it came from catching a glimpse of an integrative medicine that I want to be a part of – thank you AIMA NZ.

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