By: Rachelle Grace Matias
Edited By: Alicia Walker
Republished with permission from aihm.org.
#StrongerTogether: A historic day forever changing the trajectory of health care, nearly 200 students from UCSD School of Medicine, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Bastyr University California, and SDSU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program joined forces to launch the AIHM Student Alliance.
Over 200 students, faculty, and AIHM community members from all over San Diego united March 12 at the UCSD Telemedicine Building to reaffirm the theme permeating the day: WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!
As the leader of the Executive Board for the AIHM Student Alliance, I had the great pleasure of introducing our new student network as “a strong community of future integrative medicine practitioners who share a common vision in wanting to learn how to work together collaboratively using a multidisciplinary and patient-centered approach to healing the mind, body and spirit. ”
In alignment with AIHM’s goal to transform health care through collaboration, the Student Alliance is the first of its kind to provide the platform and resources to create real opportunities for students to cultivate relationships, ensuring trust and community are established by the time students are practicing.
The event, appropriately titled #StrongerTogether, started with an interdisciplinary panel of doctors and faculty members from each participating school presenting their own unique diagnosis, prognosis and method of treatment on a low back pain case study.
The panel did a wonderful job providing an overview of each profession, and demonstrating how they could collaborate and refer in a real-life scenario. Although the patient’s chief complaint was low back pain, what was most powerful to see was how the panel utilized an interprofessional and person-centered approach to address all aspects of the patient’s health.
Many students advocate for Integrative Medicine yet may not be clear on the skill set of differing medical professionals. The panel addressed this deficit in our education. I believe the preliminary step toward integration is to learn about each discipline’s scope of practice. It is from a place of deeper understanding and mutual respect that we can learn how to work together while honoring the unique skill sets each profession brings to the table. Providing more educational opportunities like this event in the future will be a high priority of the Student Alliance Executive Board.
The highlight of the day was when the Chair of AIHM, Daniel Friedland, MD, inspired attendees with his dynamic keynote on AIHM, Healthcare Provider Resiliency and Conscious Leadership. Echoing the words of AIHM’s President Mimi Guarneri, MD, Dr. Friedland shared AIHM’s vision:
As to the future of health care, Dr. Friedland spoke on the power students possess to manifest and realize AIHM’s mission through collaboration right now at the student level, calling the creation of the AIHM Student Alliance “historic.”
In order to establish this new paradigm of health care, we must first start the transformation within ourselves. How can we expect to bring our future patients back to health and wholeness if we are broken from burnout and stress?
As President and CEO of Super Smart Health, Dr. Friedland used touching personal narratives and neuroscience to demonstrate how mindfulness-based practices in combination with a scientific understanding of the brain can provide us with the skills needed to thrive as future healthcare providers and become conscious leaders. His words left a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of students, some were moved to tears, and all walked away with a newfound hope for the future of Integrative Health & Medicine. The Executive Board anticipates bringing Dr. Friedland back to share more on his groundbreaking work on Conscious Leadership from his upcoming book, Leading Well from Within.
The theme #StrongerTogether continued into the mixer portion of the day where students from different schools connected through silliness and fun at the AIHM photo booth. Prizes featuring merchandise and apparel donated from each school were raffled off. The event concluded with many students making new connections and expressing excitement and appreciation for the their new “tribe.”
The idea of the Student Alliance was born in the hearts of the members of the Executive Board. All aspects of the Student Alliance’s structure, vision, objectives, and marketing presence were created from the ground up through teamwork. United by our passion to pioneer the student integrative medicine movement with AIHM, the team tackled many challenges along the way and remained committed through months of planning, brainstorming and late night meetings—a massive undertaking for any full-time medical student. I attribute the success of the Student Alliance to the coalescing of the Executive Board’s dedication and strong conscious leadership skills.
I am honored to work alongside such an incredible team of purpose-driven and action-oriented leaders that I now consider family. Prior to this endeavor, we had never met, but the experiences we shared will bond us throughout our academic and professional careers.
The Executive Board is the heart and pulse of the Student Alliance. Evoking the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Our goal is to be “Conscious Leaders in Integrative Medicine” by cultivating self-growth, intuition, trust, mutual respect, creativity and compassion and to transfer these values into the culture of the AIHM Student Alliance. Under the mentorship of Dr. Friedland, the Executive Board is creating a sustainable framework to successfully execute our mission and provide a template for other student alliances to thrive across the nation.