Event Develops Future Integrative Medicine Practitioners

University of Western States Doctor of Chiropractic students Catherine Kanda and Rebekah Wilks were chosen to help represent the chiropractic field nationally at the Leadership and Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine (LEAPS into IM). The program aims to enhance the knowledge and leadership skills of future integrative medicine practitioners and to promote cross-disciplinary care. This week-long event is hosted by the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health and the American Medical Student Association (AAMSA)) Foundation.

Read on about how Kanda’s experiences at this event shaped her as a future health care practitioner.

UWS students Catherine Kanda (middle) and Rebekah Wilks (top right) with their group and mentor at the Leadership and Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine (LEAPS into IM) retreat.

The buzzwords, “integrative medicine” have been growing in popularity lately as the health care field begins to value interdisciplinary collaboration and true holistic, patient-centered care. Once I started following the official integrative medicine movement, I felt like I was finally reading mission statements and seminar descriptions that completely resonated with my own personal health philosophy, which I hope to use to better the health of my future patients.

The Leadership and Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine (LEAPS into IM) seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin building relationships, respect and understanding between a variety of allied health care and medical students. Heading into the program, I was feeling nervous and, frankly, under-qualified. I worried that the medical students would look down on my training as a chiropractic physician and bring with them preconceived notions that I wouldn’t be able to budge. I was tremendously mistaken.

The students participating in LEAPS into IM were so open-minded and inquisitive. We all enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences in our interests, curriculum and plans for future practice. One of the greatest takeaways was the relationships, both personal and professional, that were formed during this intensive program. The itinerary was constructed to facilitate quality interactions and time to truly connect with one another. I look forward to working and collaborating with these students from all over the country once we become physicians.

The mentor physicians created a calm, supportive and productive space for us to learn and experience many different types of healing modalities and medical systems. These included Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, osteopathy, functional medicine and Tai Chi. I now feel motivated and compelled to be a bridge builder between as many of these disciplines as possible.

Programs like LEAPS into IM are a great first step in starting conversations between medical professions and promoting integrative and collaborative care, but there is still a long way to go. I know that this experience will help me to become a more well-rounded doctor. I left the week feeling validated and inspired in the chiropractic profession and the future of health care.