Lifestyle Medicine's Time Has Come
by: George E. Guthrie, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACLM, CDE
It is an honor and a pleasure to be near the center of the Lifestyle Medicine movement. There are exciting developments and countless opportunities opening up for ACLM—I find it remarkable and inspiring. It is with great pleasure that I see our members passionately putting their skills and effort into different aspects of our rapidly growing professional association and field of medicine. ACLM is still in the passion-driven growth phase of organizational development, and my sincere hope is that this energy remains for many years to come. It is not just our members who are engaged; ACLM staff is dedicated to our mission, devoted to making a real difference in the way healthcare is carried out in this country and throughout the world.
Time and space will not permit me to address all that is happening, although I’d like to share a few highlights about the past several months, beginning with updates about two of our Lifestyle Medicine Global Alliance sister organizations:
Shortly after our outstanding Lifestyle Medicine 2016 conference in Naples, Florida, I found myself on a plane to Melbourne, Australia for the November Australasian Society for Lifestyle Medicine (AaSLM). There were several hundred in attendance, and a number of ACLM officers had been invited to speak. The Australasian application of lifestyle medicine has its own special flavor, and the energy was palpable. We heard some stimulating presentations about environmental issues, chronic disease reversal, practice patterns, as well as interesting talks on population health. The Aussies have had their own textbook on lifestyle medicine, authored by Gary Egger, first published in 2008. Stephen Penman is AaSLM’s executive director; he and his staff did a magnificent job of organizing the event and making us feel welcome. The most memorable event for me was getting “stuck” on the stage dancing to the strumming of Dr. Caroline West’s ukulele. Besides being an outstanding lifestyle medicine doctor, Dr. West has also been a national radio program host. She was full of passion and energy. There was never a dull moment, and, between most lectures, there was a unique exercise “opportunity.” Click here to see highlights of the “Down Under” lifestyle medicine conference.
Having mentioned the Aussie textbook of Lifestyle Medicine, you might be interested to know that Dr. James Rippe’s textbook on the topic is being rewritten with the input of expertise provided by a select group of our ACLM members. Currently in development, the book is expected to be released in the spring of 2018. My expectation is that this text will have a significant increase in its usefulness for lifestyle medicine practitioners.
March 19-22, 2017 found several of us in Taipei, Taiwan for the first meeting of the Asian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ASLM). It was a pleasure to be there for the meeting, as I had the privilege of being present for the first ASLM planning meeting that took place during our Lifestyle Medicine 2015 conference—just two short years ago. ASLM President, Dr. James Wu, and the other officers invested considerable time and effort in meeting planning, on top of their busy clinical practice schedules. They did a tremendous job, and those who had the opportunity to attend experienced wonderful Asian hospitality. Multiple societies have been birthed under the ASLM umbrella, including the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysian, and India. The ACLM and AaSLM were well represented at the Taiwan conference. Highlights included a traditional 12 course Chinese dinner on the second night of the conference, showcasing an amazing amount of food, flavors and uniqueness of the plant-based presentations. Video conference presentations by both Erica Frank and David Katz served to broaden the content that was presented. I particularly appreciated the panel discussion exploring lifestyle medicine in Asia, as well as Stephen Penman’s presentation on moving Lifestyle Medicine from a Philosophy to a Discipline in Australasia.
As I write, Susan Benigas, our intrepid ACLM executive director, is in Doha, Qatar at the invitation of ACLM Member Dr. Ravinder Mamtani of Weill Cornell Medicine, which is part of the Qatar Foundation supported Education City. Susan is presenting on the globalization of lifestyle medicine. Interest in the field is emerging throughout the Middle East, not only in Qatar, but also in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
As you may have heard, the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine will host the inaugural certification exam on October 26, 2017, immediately following our Lifestyle Medicine 2017 conference in Tucson, AZ; over 200 have already signed up to sit for the exam. Development of a Comprehensive Board Review Course is underway, the registration for which went live last week. This review course will feature an in-depth manual, a series of interactive webinar presentations, and a live session the afternoon prior to the exam.
The Boarding process and supporting educational material are vitally important projects. We recognize that these are major steps in defining the field of lifestyle medicine, not only for ourselves, but also for the general public, for the longstanding “house of medicine,” and for insurance payers, including the government. We are dedicated to ensuring that these pieces are drawn together so that they are evidence-based and flexible enough to expand as the evidence grows. A strong foundation is necessary for success into the future. Sincere thanks to all who are playing a role in bringing this vision to fruition.
None of this would be possible without the passion and commitment of our members who have become active on committees and working groups or as elected board members and officers, all with the coordination of our energetic executive director and our capable staff.
Our Corporate Roundtable (CRT) is now 22 members strong and a significant source of support and ideas for ACLM growth. We have carefully chosen members whose business focus is in line with what ACLM represents. We must avoid any compromise of our mission and function as a professional society. Relationships must be clearly win-win in nature. Our next meeting of the CRT will be held June 15 in San Diego, hosted by Founding Member Kashi. Having had the opportunity to participate in our quarterly CRT calls and meetings, it’s been inspiring to hear different businesses and organizations actively strategizing about ways we can all raise the awareness of lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition in our communities and across the country.
The June CRT meeting will be followed immediately, on June 16, by the 3rd annual ACLM Healthcare Transformation Summit (near San Diego in Carlsbad, California). This half-day, ticketed event will showcase an expert line-up presenting on lifestyle medicine in the workplace. I see worksite-based lifestyle medicine as the most effective way to effect cultural change in American medicine, as I pointed out last President’s Desk, “Money Talks.” It is exciting to hear how businesses are incorporating lifestyle medicine into their worksite health promotion, resulting in a strong ROI. Dr. Dexter Shurney, who serves on our ACLM board as president-elect, is a strong proponent of lifestyle medicine. As CMO and head of global employee benefits for Cummins Inc., Dexter says, “From an employer perspective, a comprehensive lifestyle medicine wellness initiative is the only avenue to sustainable behavior change that will result in improved outcomes and lower costs."
It’s not too early to register for Lifestyle Medicine 2017, the premier Lifestyle Medicine CME event of the year, set for October 22-25. The theme of this year's conference is Transforming Health, Redefining Healthcare, which is what lifestyle medicine delivers. Join hundreds of our lifestyle medicine colleagues from across the US and around the world; I promise that it will not disappoint.
We are thankful to have a very experienced public relations specialist working for us. A recent addition to our team, Jean Tips is now coordinating our national PR efforts as our newest staff member, joining ACLM as our part-time director of communications. She and Susan have developed a strategic plan for building awareness around ACLM-specific initiatives and the field as a whole. Don’t be a bit surprised if you start hearing more on the national stage about ACLM and the lifestyle medicine movement as Jean’s experience and connections are fully leveraged over the next couple of years.
I’d like to express my sincere appreciation for your passion for Lifestyle Medicine. Thank you for being involved. Keep your seatbelt on; this thing is moving fast!
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