This past weekend I was honored to begin Duke’s year long Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare. This first cohort of 35 gathered at Duke Integrative Medicine for an immersion in leadership and integrative healthcare. The result was what retired General McChrystal called a “shared consciousness” –the same contextual knowledge experienced at the same time. Truly integrative and coming from all different disciplines, models and regions; the common knowledge driving this shared consciousness is the critical need for change in our healthcare systems.
Program Director Dr. Adam Pearlman began the conversation with identifying that in healthcare we are at an inflection point — a point of dramatic change. We are sitting on a precipice. What has been is no longer working. The days of reacting versus responding to our health needs have taken a toll on all of us – as individuals, practitioners, businesses and as a society. Patients and providers are looking for change. It was empowering to be with a group of people who feel the energy and opportunity this point of change can bring. With this opportunity comes a great responsibility to use informed mindfulness to respond to the crisis.
The collective energy and passion was like a buzz I could feel physically. Faculty and president of Innovational Services, Michael Aquilino defined this buzz as alignment. Alignment became a core distinction throughout the weekend. Alignment happens when your words and actions match up. When you say I want to live a happy and whole life and take the steps to promote and protect that intention. Alignment is a medical practitioner who knows their patient and holds the relationship with deep respect. In our culture of information and comparison, alignment can be trickier than it seems. It takes deep awareness and practice.
As I continued to feel the buzz of alignment throughout the immersion weekend, I began to see the parallel process for integrative healthcare leaders and practitioners and the patients/clients we work with. When patients/clients come to us they too are at an inflection point, a point in which dramatic change in one direction or another is possible. This change could be a flight into health or a health crisis.
People come to integrative healthcare services from a variety of paths. Some are looking for prevention and wellness or to optimize their current health and functioning. Some are coming for secondary prevention or to mitigate the symptoms of existing conditions such as anxiety/depression, chronic pain or other stress-related disorders. Some are looking for support in the treatments for infertility, cancer or other conditions. Regardless of why people choose the integrative path, I would say they all have reached a point of inflection. This point of inflection could be a health crisis, it could be an “aha” moment or it could be a very conscious decision to live life differently. Whatever the inflection point is, once a person identifies this and lines up their values and what they want for their health over the course of rest of their life a buzz is created. That internal buzz pushes us to take the risk and begin to make changes; to align our words with our actions.
Patients/clients and practitioners of integrative healthcare are on a shared path to a more meaningful and richer way of living life to the fullest. We are both at this inflection point. When we line up our values with our actions — alignment — an internal and external buzz is created. This is what moves energy and creates change in a system as well as in each of us individually. This collective energy is extremely empowering. When practitioners and patients/clients can take this path together, side by side, healing for both the individual and the system will be incredibly profound. We are feeling this buzz at Omaha Integrative Care and honored to walk the path with you on your way to finding your center as we also find our way to creating meaningful change in our community.
Julie Luzarraga, LICSW, DCSW