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Lions Roar : January 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2011 89 times, he met what seemed like illogical re- sistance to the common sense and evidence- backed recommendations of his program. “In 1995, the administrator of Medicare told me, ‘before I’ll consider doing a Medi- care demonstration project, you need to get a letter from the director of the national Heart, lung, and blood Institute of the na- tional Institutes of Health stating that your program is safe.’ I asked him, ‘you want me to get a letter saying that it’s safe for older americans to walk, meditate, quit smoking, and eat fruits and vegetables?’ He said yes.” ornish secured the letter, and Medicare now covers his program of lifestyle interven- tion for heart health. He hopes reimburse- ment for this and other integrative medicine programs will change not only medical practice, but also medical education. this is a critical step, because one of the biggest challenges facing integrative medicine is the medical culture. today’s health care provid- ers haven’t been trained in the kind of well- ness-focused interventions and collaborative care—especially between conventional and complementary providers—demanded by integrative medicine. Incorporating these principles into medical education could eventually transform health care by creating a generation of doctors who value and know how to deliver an integrative approach. those working to promote the field of integrative medicine agree on one thing: they would be thrilled to see the word “inte- grative” disappear completely. “even in the beginning,” says Jeffrey brantley, “we weren’t trying to be at odds with conventional med- icine. We’re not trying to be renegades and rebels. We think we’re part of medicine. now the paradigm is shifting.” He recognizes that integrative medicine is viewed by many as a challenge to conventional medicine, and there are some who have a vested interest in not changing the current system. but he hopes that in time, the distinction between integrative and conventional will dissolve. “at Duke, our dream is that one day there won’t be integrative medicine,” he says, “be- cause all medicine will be practiced the way we practice it. treating the whole person, us- ing an evidence-based approach, and bring- ing mindfulness into every aspect of health care—this will be standard medicine.” ♦