Why is IM important?

We are on the verge of an important and welcome shift in our health care paradigm. An opinion in the Wall Street Journal dated January 9, 2009 entitled “Alternative Medicine is Mainstream,” notes that we practice a “disease care system” in North America with at least 75% of costs spent on treating chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. These diseases can be preventable and may even be reversible through lower cost and lower technological interventions such as diet, exercise, and stress reduction techniques. This all leads to better health, increases patient empowerment, fosters disease prevention and most importantly contributes to the shift toward a health care system instead of one predicated on managing illness and disease.

Consumers are demanding more from their health care than just an expensive prescription. In 1990, 34% of patients were using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) (Eisenberg DM et al, NEJM, 1993), and by 2002, 62% of Americans were using remedies outside of their mainstream care (NIH, 2002). These statistics can be extrapolated to our Canadian population.

This trend toward integrating CAM with conventional medicine is mirrored in the research world with the creation in the US of the National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the undertaking of a less centralized body of research in Canada. It is also mirrored in the realm of medical education with over thirty medical institutions, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford University, and McMaster University, and the University of Calgary that have made a commitment to teaching Integrative Medicine. They collaborate as the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. In addition, several Family Medicine residency programs now have an additional training track in Integrative Medicine.

Dr Adam Gavsie completed his fellowship under the direction and tutelage of the national forerunners of this new system including Andrew Weil, MD, Victoria Maizes MD, and Tieraona Low Dog MD.