A Brief History
The Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), now called Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH), was formed in 2004 as a project of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), an organization dedicated to promoting policies and action to advance integrated health care. ACIH was part of a broader IHPC educational initiative entitled the National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care: Creating Common Ground (NED). The goal of both efforts was to fulfill on educational directions recommended by the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and the IHPC's National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care. The vision and commitment of philanthropist Lucy Gonda was critically important in the founding of both NED and ACIH.
Our initial action focused on getting comfortable with each other and clarifying our vision, mission and values. This was the first time leaders of key national educational institutions and accrediting agencies within our distinct fields had made a commitment to learn to work together to better patient care. Statements of Vision, Mission and Values grew out this work. We set about clarifying the shared educational opportunities and challenges we faced in the emerging context of integrative medicine and integrated health care.
Collaboration with Conventional Health Professions Educators
Our members led many of the multidisciplinary, research, survey and academic projects for the National Education Dialogue, which convened in mid-2005. One example: We collaborated with leaders of the conventional Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health on a survey of all of their members and all of ACIH's accredited schools to gather baseline data on the status of inter-institutional relationships. A second project was a collaboration to examine our shared responses to a paper published by our conventional academic peers on the competencies in integrative medicine. We later had this survey published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine as "Response to a Proposal for an Integrative Medicine Curriculum" (Benjamin P et al. 13(9): 1021-1034). We held a joint leadership meeting in May 2009 and met with the Consortium in 2011. ACIH and CAHCIM will jointly sponsor the first International Congress for Educators on Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Health in October 2012 at Georgetown University, the 3rd co-sponsor.
The work with the National Education Dialogue convinced us that there was value to the betterment of health care through ACIH remaining active as a separate organization. With IHPC’s support and blessing, we created the internal architecture which could be a platform to carry our shared vision. We chose to include our certification and testing agencies as a third organizational member category. We affirmed our early commitment to supporting the maturation of other fields as they move through the processes required to be full participants in healthcare teams. ACIH was formally incorporated in early 2008.
Development as a Distinct Organization
In 2011, ACIH's core of Organizational Members were twelve educational, accrediting, certification and testing organizations plus three Traditional World Medicines organizations and one Emerging Professions organizations. Our work is engaged principally through our Board of Directors and our three Working Groups. We support the development and enhancement of ongoing relationships between our disciplines through convening meetings of Special Interest Groups.
We continue to be moved by the vision of the respectful teamwork which patients desire and which quality health care demands from professionals. We know that integration of our educational processes is the foundation for affirmative changes in clinical practices. We work on these issues between the ACIH member disciplines. We also continuously engage our colleagues in conventional medical education, research, policy and practice to forge the openness which will allow us to create the transformation that our vision requires.
Priorities and Major Projects
Once incorporated and with working groups convened, ACIH leaders focused on identifying the priority projects that will help fulfill on ACIH's mission to better patient care through fostering more mutual respect and understanding among the disciplines. Much of this work, past and present, is referenced in our Chronicle of Accomplishments 2004-2016. Below are key areas of involvement:
- Managing the publication and marketing of the ACIH Clinicians' and Educators' Desk Reference on the Licensed Complementary and Alternative Healthcare Professions (CEDR).
- Establishing ACIH's Competencies for Optimal Practice in Integrated Environments.
- Assisting the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIM) to better understand the distinct challenges and opportunities in research relative to the ACIH disciplines.
- Engaging national interprofessional education/care (IPE/C) endeavor through such steps as sponsorship of the most influential North American IPE/C conference where we individually presented 640 copies of the CEDR to attendees.
- Developing the clearinghouse and organizing web-portal called the Center for Optimal Integration.
In addition, ACIH has continued in dialogue and sharing with the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (ACIMH). Leaders of the two organizations met for a half day in 2009, including a joint working group meeting and a reception and dinner. (See photo above.) Many of that Consortium's key leaders serve on the ACIH Council of Advisers and played significant roles in the 2011 ACIH Biennial Meeting. In addition to our various activities with the ACIMH, the Collaborative is also very involved in the Global Forum for Innovations in Health Professional Education (sponsored by the National Academies of Medicine Health and Medicine Division) and the National Center for Integrative Primary Healthcare (sponsored by the Univ. of AZ & HRSA).
Please see our Chronicle of Accomplishments and Core Projects menu links for updates on our activities since 2011.