Sunday 5 December 2021 | 2 a.m
The famous physician and academician Sir William Osler described the science and art of medicine as not being separate, but rather serving as twin berries on a single stalk. The American healthcare system is a blend of science-proven therapies with the added art of patient care.
Simply put, how we take care of patients is as important as what we do for patients. Integrative healthcare combines both the art and science of medicine and is now seen by healthcare professionals as the future of medicine. The approach is generally defined as health care that combines complementary and alternative medicine treatments with conventional medicine. Integrative healthcare is aimed at caring for the physical body, emotional body, mental body, and spiritual body of all patients.
During the pandemic, it became clear how individual health affects collective health. As behaviors have changed over the past two years, the interdependence of our health has become increasingly evident. Isolation has reduced the risk of infection, but also increased depression and anxiety. The concept of death became real when loved ones, friends and co-workers contracted COVID.
The collective effects of this pandemic are not yet fully realized. This includes physical, mental and spiritual health. Integrative health, that is to say the care of the whole patient, is the solution. Because our health and general well-being depend on people and systems made up of people, integrative health empowers the community of our diverse group of people to help take care of themselves.
Another example of integrative health care that has existed since the 1970s in the United States is that of hospice care. Every day, teams of professionals, made up of doctors, nurses, CNA, social workers and chaplains, as well as complementary and alternative therapists, come together to discuss the full range of needs of each patient and from his family. Unfortunately, patients often have to wait until the end of their lives to receive integrated care.
In addition, hospices use techniques such as massage therapy to improve well-being at the end of life. Unfortunately, patients often wonder why they had to wait until the end of their life to receive this kind of care. Our premise is that these types of interventions that improve quality of life should be part of the care of all patients.
The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV has a Director of Wellness and Integrative Medicine as well as Integrative Medicine courses, with the main objective of teaching our future physicians about comprehensive personal care. Compassion, the very act of recognizing the plight of others, requires this type of mindset.
The philosophy of integrated health care has been part of the school since its inception. Founding Dean Barbara Atkinson saw the importance of integrative health care and made it one of her planning goals. Today, this notion is concretized with the school and the creation of an Academic Health Center. Here, the integrative approach comes together because all health science students at UNLV – nursing, dentistry, public health, integrative health and medicine students – have the opportunity to work together.
As we build this interdisciplinary academic health center, we establish a model for integrating the health care of each patient and our entire community. It means establishing interdisciplinary care where individual health, community health, and population health are all interconnected.
The integrative healthcare model allows each practitioner to bring their specific knowledge, expertise and wisdom to the table – a table we set for everyone we meet. By working together as a team that includes the patient at heart, we create a healthcare system that reflects, supports and empowers the patients and the communities we serve.
Living in Las Vegas and creating a university health center creates a unique opportunity. The Ritz Carlton has a motto: “We are women and men in the service of women and men. The motto of the university health center could be: “We are whole people at the service of whole people”.
As one of the largest hotel cities in the world, fundamental concepts of hospitality and consumer-centric care must be embedded in everything we do, and we are a place where people can come from everywhere to. to experience health and healing.
In doing so, every step must be taken in the direction of making health care available, affordable and patient-centered. We can no longer wait to take care of ourselves and others in separate and distinct ways. We can honor the complexity of the human being by exploring the totality of body, mind and spirit.
This was the way until the 17th century, when the French philosopher René Descartes, credited as one of the first to metaphorically separate the head from the rest of the body through his treatise on the duality of mind and body, changed the course of the way we think about our body, mind and spirit. It is time to put our heads back on our bodies, to honor the connection of body, mind and spirit, and to provide integrative care to the individual and our communities.
Anne Weisman is Director of Wellness and Integrative Medicine at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. Marc J. Khan is the dean and vice president of health affairs for the school.