Next Generation of Conscious Leadership in Integrative Healthcare

daniel friedland with aihm student alliance

If you’re a healthcare provider or medical resident, have you ever been confronted by an abrasive attending or professor who belittled or humiliated you or someone on your team?

Or have you felt harassed and beaten down by an administration that seems to want to grind you to the ground, not caring that you’ve already spent 70 hours this week on patient care, record keeping and administrative duties and haven’t had time to have dinner with your family?

And do you ever get frustrated with the systemic inability to collaborate and network with other healthcare providers using complementary modalities to optimize a patient’s care?

If so, that’s a leadership issue. And it demands change at the top levels of healthcare.

Well that change may be happening now, and it’s coming from a surprising and inspiring group of healthcare practitioners: integrative health and medicine students.

I’ve just experienced a historic moment in integrative medicine: a collaboration of integrative health students coming together to network, learn and integrate their practices to foster interprofessional collaboration and optimize patient care.

In what may forecast a promising future for healthcare, I had the honor to present the Keynote at a conference celebrating the launch of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine’s (AIHM) Student Alliance. Check out the Student Alliance Press Release here.

The Alliance was created by a remarkable group of student leaders that serve as their Executive Board, including Rachelle Grace Matias and Phillip Alexander Leu from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Antoinette Mason and Stephanie Da Silva from UCSD School of Medicine, Zane Brandt and Alicia Walker from SDSU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and Pedi Mirdamadi from Bastyr University, a naturopathic college.

This is an incredibly dynamic group of young leaders who embody the essence of conscious leadership – they’re looking to create a culture of caring and contribute to the future of integrative healthcare.

The Executive Board initiated, convened and led a conference held at UCSD on Saturday March 12th, 2016.

The conference opened with some inspiring words, followed by a panel discussion presented by attending physicians from each of these four schools.

As they presented a case, each clinician from a different discipline offered differing treatment perspectives, depending on professional background – western medical (allopathic) model, naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine and physical therapy.

The panel demonstrated how they could cross-refer and learn from what each other is doing, resulting in interprofessional collaboration that delivers better outcomes for patient care.

Following the panel discussion, I had the great honor of presenting an overview of the Academy and its vision, to transform healthcare and the world.

Presently, the irony in healthcare is that organizations are siloed and are not collaborating.

The Academy is looking to change that.

In my keynote, we addressed that issue head-on.

At the AIHM, we have a Vision:

We, too, have a dream.

Where healthcare is about health and available to all

Where prevention is our foundation and mechanical fixes are embraced when we need them

Where all healthcare providers work collaboratively to heal body, mind and spirit

Where sustainability is integrated into our culture, practice and training

We are the solution

Working together to establish a new paradigm of health care for humanity and the planet

But this won’t happen until we have the support of a new breed of conscious leaders in healthcare.

Leaders who embrace change not just from an institutional perspective, but also from an internal perspective – by understanding the stress and burnout that many healthcare providers feel today that may physically and emotionally leave us drained of the energy to try to change the system from within.

And to do this, you must start from within – by developing your resilience and emotional intelligence skills so you can change the paternalistic, survival of the fittest attitudes we’ve all experienced into more compassionate, resilient, caring healthcare leaders who can inspire profound change in their organizations and people. To learn how to “Lead Well From Within.”

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The students’ reaction to my keynote was moving and profound.

It demonstrates that this is a gaping hole in medical education and practice and it needs to be filled.

As Rachelle Matias stated:

“The event left a lasting impression in the hearts of those who attended on the future of Integrative Health and Medicine causing a ripple effect that has literally exploded! Dr. Friedland’s talk literally had some people in tears….So many students came up to me personally awe stricken on how powerful this movement is, offering their support and excitement for our next move. I envision this as only the beginning and that our Student Alliance can provide a sustainable framework that can replicated in other student communities throughout the nation.”

Pedi Mirdamadi stated he had gooseflesh: “I am still buzzing from your talk. It was truly moving and inspirational.”

Kate, another attendee, discussed how conscious leadership education is vital to medical education and should form a model for all medical education programs, stating,

“I really liked how you talked about using mindfulness, compassion, and love as tools for career success, both as doctors and in leadership. Even though we know these are important concepts in our personal lives and relationships, they are rarely talked about in regards to career success, but it doesn’t make sense that they should be any different.”

She said she looks forward to the future of integrative medicine and bridging the gap between science, emotion, and spirituality.

We look forward to encouraging our AIHM Student Alliance to keep up the good work to develop conscious leadership skills and lead us into the future of healthcare.

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