The Creation of a New Specialty




Both outside and inside the medical profession, the concept of medicine for the whole person is gathering increasing support. The body-mind-spirit approach integrates many disciplines and modalities, including physiology, biochemistry, nutrition, exercise, environment, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, social relationships, manual medicine, herbs, homeopathy, energy medicine, prayer, acupuncture, meditation, spirituality, and biofeedback. Holistic Medicine is based on the core belief that unconditional love is life's most powerful healer. At its essence, the practice of integrative holistic medicine embraces a spirit of interdisciplinary and physician-patient cooperation, balances the mitigation of causes with relief of symptoms, integrates conventional and complementary therapies, and facilitates the experience of being fully alive.

ABIHM Board Certification
As these concepts are incorporated into American medical practice, medical education, health planning, and research, reasonable standards must be established regarding the application of the body of knowledge which encompasses the field of Integrative Holistic Medicine. The American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) was incorporated in 1996 to certify physicians through a psychometrically validated examination process. Since 2000, when we provided our first exam, we have certified nearly 3000 physicians. The process of educating physicians through our Annual Conference and our extensive curriculum has established a grounding and common knowledge base for those seeking board certification in integrative holistic medicine. When the ABIHM was incorporated, educational opportunities in integrative holistic medicine were scarce. The past 15 years have brought tremendous growth to the field, and training programs in integrative medicine now abound. Many residency programs are offering integrative opportunities, and fellowship training programs in integrative medicine are becoming increasingly available. At the end of 2014, the ABIHM plans to no longer offer its board certification exam. As we are transforming into an international academy, we are developing a certification program that will not be exclusive to MD’s and DO’s, but will be more broadly available to advanced health care professionals.

A New Development in Board Certification for MD’s and DO’s in Integrative Medicine
The directors of the University of Arizona (U of A), have initiated a relationship with the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) to develop a new board exclusive to MD’s and DO’s in integrative medicine called the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABoIM). They plan launch their first exam in November, 2014. The ABPS is frequently assumed to be the same organization as the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), but they are different entities. The ABIHM and the ABoIM are also completely unrelated.

The ABPS has published the eligibility requirements for the ABoIM, which will involve a fellowship level of training as a prerequisite for board certification. However, until 12/1/16, physicians who can demonstrate experience in integrative medicine (CME and/or practice experience) may be eligible for a fellowship waiver. Active Diplomates of the ABIHM will be awarded 200 points out of a necessary 500 points to be able to sit for the ABoIM exam without a fellowship. For ABIHM Diplomates who do not wish to undergo ABPS certification, the ABIHM intends to continue to offer its maintenance of certification process into the foreseeable future under our new organization, the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM). For more information about the ABoIM where ABIHM is concerned, please see this link. We highly recommend that physicians who are interested in the ABoIM process review the information found directly on the ABPS website, and that specific questions regarding the ABoIM certification process be directed to the ABoIM.