ACLM Lifestyle Medicine Newsletter

Celebrating 15-years: Vision. Purpose. Progress.
 By Susan Benigas, Executive Director
The year 2019 has been one of celebration, marking the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s (ACLM’s) 15th anniversary. It’s also been a year of tremendous accomplishment and advancement for both ACLM and the field it represents. We hope you’ll take time to review this 15-year ACLM timeline that documents the significant benchmarks and successes along the way—including those of this past year—that have led to ACLM now being recognized as the nation’s fastest-growing medical professional association, one that has experienced a 525% growth in membership over the past five years alone.
 
It was in 2004 that a visionary physician, John Kelly, MD, MPH, recognized that, while the evidence overwhelmingly supported the efficacy, no other medical specialty represented lifestyle used as a therapeutic intervention to treat and reverse already existing disease. He knew that the status quo approach of diagnosing symptoms and treating them with ever-increasing quantities of pills and procedures was unsustainable, nor was it in the best interest of patients or providers. He was compelled to establish a new medical professional association that would represent the field of “Lifestyle Medicine”—what is now often described as both the oldest and newest field of medicine, as it was the oft-quoted Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who was known to advocate for healthful lifestyle behaviors supporting the body’s innate ability to heal.
 
Dr. Kelly’s vision was embraced by other trailblazing physicians and researchers who came together as founding members of what was then and still is a physician-led medical professional society, now representing all who comprise the interdisciplinary Lifestyle Medicine team-based model. While first open only to MDs, DOs and PhDs, in 2012, ACLM’s membership expanded to include allied health professionals, healthcare executives and those in professions that support the advancement of the field. ACLM’s Professionals in Training (now referred to as ACLM Trainees) was also founded in 2012, as a home within ACLM for medical students and residents, as well as students in other healthcare-related fields of study. 
 
When we consider that 70 percent of all Americans and 90 percent of all seniors are reliant on pharmaceuticals, with the U.S. spending more on prescription meds than the rest of the world combined, it is cause for grave concern. While we’re grateful for pharmacological interventions, disease management for all chronic disease diagnosis is an unsustainable approach. ACLM’s vision is a nation and world wherein Lifestyle Medicine is the foundation of health and all health care—a Lifestyle Medicine “first” approach to real health care. Rather than striving only for disease management, Lifestyle Medicine clinicians specialize in health restoration. As disease is not just managed in patients but, often, reversed, it reignites the passion for why most clinicians went into the field of medicine: to become true healers. Lifestyle Medicine, while synonymous with value-based care, is the ultimate antidote to physician and provider burnout. 
 
We so often talk about ACLM and the field of Lifestyle Medicine being magnets for purpose, passion-driven people. This is what has and continues to fuel ACLM’s exponential growth—in both numbers and scope. ACLM’s leaders, members and staff represent a galvanized force for change, as we come together as a united force to usher in sustainable health, sustainable health care and a sustainable world. 
 
The United States and the rest of the world desperately need the health, hope and healing that Lifestyle Medicine clinicians deliver. In the face of alarming obesity and chronic disease trends, and the upward trajectory of associated costs, Lifestyle Medicine addresses the 86 percent of health care spending that pays for the treatment of conditions rooted in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors.
 
The accomplishments of 2019 have been many, as outlined on our ACLM 15 Year History Timeline . You’ll see that ACLM is investing heavily in filling the gaping void that exists in regard to Lifestyle Medicine in medical education—across the entire education spectrum, from pre-professional and undergrad medical education, to graduate medical education, residency and continuing medical education. ACLM is leading the charge for change, helping to transform both medical education and clinical practice.
 
This year, we’ve launched…and continued to expand:
  • The second edition of the Foundations of Lifestyle Medicine Board Review Course (by Drs. John Kelly and Jeni Shull)
  • The second edition of the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program online course (in partnership with ACPM)
  • The new Culinary Medicine syllabus and comprehensive curriculum (by Stanford’s and former ACLM BOD member, Dr. Michelle Hauser) - launch Dec 2019
  • The new Lifestyle Medicine 101 course, complete with syllabus, handbook, and customizable PPT curriculum (by Harvard’s and former ACLM BOD member, Dr. Beth Frates)
  • The LM Reimbursement Roadmap
  • The Case for Lifestyle Medicine in the Workplace
  • The launch of the ACLM Certified Lifestyle Medicine Program designation, through our LM Economic Research Consortium
  • A robust suite of new clinical practice resources and patient-facing educational materials
  • The continuation of our monthly educational webinar series
  • The new Lifestyle Medicine Insider newsletter
  • ACLM’s Lifestyle Medicine Corporate Roundtable, now 30 members strong
  • ACLM’s annual conference, with a record-breaking, sell-out attendance of over 1,500 who gathered in October for Lifestyle Medicine 2019
  • With the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine having hosted its third annual exam last month, the results of which now equate to, in the U.S. alone, a cumulative total of 761 physicians and 296 allied health professionals now certified in the field of LM through ABLM (MDs and DOs) and ACLM (all others) since the exam’s debut in 2017
 
ACLM’s strong and visionary leaders are at the helm of the association’s remarkable forward momentum. Entering his second year as president, Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH, FACLM, DipABLM, has championed the “P” priorities of his administration: policy, payment and partnerships. As a result, ACLM’s efforts on Capitol Hill are in full swing, as we proactively work to address the urgent need for well-aligned quality measures that both incent and reward a Lifestyle Medicine-first approach to health care, as well as strong reimbursement for treatment and reversal of disease through LM-therapeutic intervention. Meetings with CMS leaders and select legislators are underway, supported by key partnerships that are being forged with other medical professional associations, as well as with other key organizations. 
 
As we look ahead to 2020, President Shurney’s priorities will continue to be front and center, as will our educational initiatives and offering. This will include the Q1 launch of the new online course, “Reversing Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance with Lifestyle Medicine,” as well as the planned debut of our second “Making the Case” installment: The Case for Lifestyle Medicine in Health Systems. The latter will be supplemented with the companion Lifestyle Medicine Center of Excellence designation for health systems, recognizing outstanding achievement in system transformation, built on the foundation of evidence-based Lifestyle Medicine.
 
We have reason to celebrate! The accomplishments of ACLM, now chronicled on our official 15th anniversary timeline, have only been possible with visionary, dedicated and tenacious leadership.
 
While the growth we’ve experienced and progress we’ve made in recent years is nothing short of remarkable, we know that the best is yet to come. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is committed to championing the field that the nation and world needs as the foundation of health and all health care.
 
Here’s to 2020 and beyond!