While volunteering at the IM4US (Integrative Medicine for the Underserved) conference last month, NUHS students were able to learn additional approaches to treating underserved populations.
Over 300 acupuncturists, oriental medicine practitioners, naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, physicians, nurses, etc., attended the three-day event Aug. 24-26 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
In addition to providing volunteers, National University sponsored the research portion of the conference that includes 18 poster presentations and three breakout sessions. NUHS also helped fund IM4US’s first annual research prizes for “Outstanding Young Investigator” and “Outstanding Research Innovation.”
Salvatore D’Amico, a research assistant at Boston Medical Center, won the “Outstanding Young Investigator” award for his research poster about how mindfulness may be an effective method for smoking cessation programs for cancer patients. Kavitha Selvaraj, MD, a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, won the “Outstanding Research Innovation” award for her research poster about screening for toxic stress during well-child visits.
As part of their volunteer efforts, NUHS students were able to learn more about these research projects and attend multiple presentations. The conference featured discussions about how integrative medicine can treat and address the needs of various types of underserved patient populations, including victims of domestic abuse, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and immigrant families.
Group care, which provides patient care in group settings, is one way alternative health care can be more accessible and affordable. At the conference, students learned how to conduct a group session first hand.
“Opportunities are abound as more allopathic practitioners of various disciplines are becoming open to integrative approaches,” said Anita Hollins, a volunteer and student in the NUHS Master of Science in Oriental Medicine program. “I spoke to several family practice physicians that either have certifications or have partnered with AOM, DC, and ND practitioners.”
When she graduates, Hollins plans to incorporate an integrative approach and treat underserved communities, possibly at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that facilitates integration. “I’ve seen effective FQHC models over the years and may look to partner with an existing one or establish an FQHC that addresses the needs of the community,” she said.
Sarah Montesa, an NUHS chiropractic and oriental medicine student, who also volunteered at the event, said one takeaway from the conference was the variation on the golden rule: “Treat others as they would want to be treated.”
“If you really want to help someone, you need to meet them where they are and speak to their values. Then you will be able to provide them with the care that they need,” she said.
Beyond integrative medicine, Montesa was also able to gain a better understanding of racial and socioeconomic inequalities. “You get to learn about the people that you will be treating beyond just choosing the right technique based on medical findings,” she said. “We will all be caring for patients one day, it’s good to see them through more than just a clinical lens, it could make all of the difference in helping them to be well.”