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Developing and Implementing Core Competencies for Integrative Medicine Fellowships

Ring, Melinda MD; Brodsky, Marc MD; Dog, Tieraona Low MD; Sierpina, Victor MD; Bailey, Michelle MD; Locke, Amy MD; Kogan, Mikhail MD; Rindfleisch, James A. MPhil, MD; Saper, Robert MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000148

The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine defines integrative medicine as “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, health care professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” Over the past three decades, the U.S. public increasingly has sought integrative medicine approaches. In an effort to train medical professionals to adequately counsel patients on the safe and appropriate use of these approaches, medical schools and residencies have developed curricula on integrative medicine for their trainees. In addition, integrative medicine clinical fellowships for postresidency physicians have emerged to provide training for practitioners interested in gaining greater expertise in this emerging field. Currently, 13 clinical fellowships in integrative medicine exist in the United States, and they are predominantly connected to academic medical centers or teaching affiliate hospitals. In 2010, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, represented by 56 member academic health care institutions with a shared commitment to advance the principles and practices of integrative medicine, convened a two-year task force to draft integrative medicine fellowship core competencies. These competencies would guide fellowship curriculum development and ensure that graduates possessed a common body of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. In this article, the authors discuss the competencies and the task force’s process to develop them, as well as associated teaching and assessment methods, faculty development, potential barriers, and future directions.

Dr. Ring is assistant professor of clinical medicine, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Brodsky is assistant clinical professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York.

Dr. Low Dog is clinical associate professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Sierpina is professor of family medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.

Dr. Bailey is instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Locke is assistant professor of family medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Kogan is assistant professor of medicine, Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Dr. Rindfleisch is associate professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Saper is associate professor of family medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Previous presentations: The authors presented a draft of the core competencies for discussion and feedback in workshops at the 2012 International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in Portland, Oregon, and at the 2012 International Congress for Educators in Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Washington, DC.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Ring, Northwestern Integrative Medicine, 150 E. Huron Ave., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60611; telephone: (312) 926-3627; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges