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Seeking an Integrative Medicine Physician?

I am interested in finding a doctor trained in or open to integrative medicine. Where should I look?

Answer (Published 9/7/2004)

You could start by contacting the medical school nearest your home to ask if it has a program in integrative medicine. If so, call the office of the program director to ask for a physician referral.

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You should also take a look at the Web site of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine here at the University of Arizona to see if one of the graduates of our fellowship programs is located in your area. To date, more than 120 graduates and associates are practicing in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, and Japan.

I realize that at present the demand for physicians who practice integrative medicine or are open to its goals is far greater than the supply. Fortunately, there is growing pressure on medical schools and on those who administer government funding of medical education to put more emphasis on integrative medicine. As programs and centers like the one at the University of Arizona proliferate and begin to graduate doctors, we'll have a larger supply of physicians willing to expand the horizons of medicine by focusing on the body's natural healing potential and by drawing on the rich diversity of other therapeutic systems.

If you can't find an integrative medicine practitioner, you may be able to "create"one among your own team of health-care professionals by discussing the effective alternative therapies you have used or are using and urging them to become more familiar with such treatments. (Tell them to look at the University of Arizona's Web site for available training programs.) Certainly alternative treatments are widely popular. Results of a government survey released in May 2004 showed that 36 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and older use some form of complementary or alternative medicine. (The total comes to 62 percent when prayer is included.) The survey data are considered the most comprehensive and reliable information on use of complementary and alternative treatments ever collected. If you can't find a doctor today who practices integrative medicine or is open to its principles, chances are that you'll be able to find one close to home sooner rather than later.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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