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Where are the Integrative Medicine Doctors?

I'm 58. My physician of 30 years who tolerated my interest in Alternative approaches to health issues retired. Since then, I have gone through four doctors who have expressed both outright anger and subtle ridicule. How do I find an MD who will work with me?

Answer (Published 2/20/2004)

I wish I had a quick and easy answer to your question or, better yet, could provide a referral list of physicians for you to choose from. I hope that a long-range solution to your problem is in the works as programs in integrative medicine such as the one here at the University of Arizona (Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine) begin to proliferate throughout the country. As more doctors graduate from these programs, we’ll have a larger supply of physicians willing to expand the horizons of medicine by focusing on the body’s natural healing potential, by regarding the mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of patients in addition to their physical bodies, and by drawing on the rich diversity of other therapeutic systems.

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While demand for the kind of doctor you want greatly exceeds supply, it has resulted in increasing pressure on medical schools and on those who administer government funding of medical education to put more emphasis on Integrative medicine. So I think the chances are good that in the future more doctors will be out there who think this way.

I realize that welcome as these changes may be, they aren’t going to help you find an integrative physician right away. A possible way to find one would be to contact the medical school nearest your home to ask if there is a program in integrative or alternative medicine. If so, you might call the office of the program director to ask for a referral. If your local hospital has an Integrative or Alternative Medicine department (some do!) you could ask for a referral in the same way.

Also, The American Holistic Medical Association lists some practitioners on its site (although the list is not confined to physicians and is poorly organized). Hang in there and make your desire known. Things will get better.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

View the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine’s list of graduates here.

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