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ntegrator Blog

Our Ideals and the Politics of Affirmative Action: Should We Abandon 'CAM'

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series

Most of us like the idea of our inclusive ideal, of one big tent, whether it is called integrative medicine, or integrative health or integrative practice or just good medicine.

This is integration at its aspirational best. We seek the Quixotic star of mutual respect, of actual clinical teams continuously declaring for the best interest of patients and leaving the economic self-interests and cultural biases of our guilds at the door. Our natural desire is to discard terms of division, such as CAM.

But to the extent there remains discrimination against the CAM professions, can leaders of CAM professions stop such practices by diminishing the focus which may come from maintaining this identity as CAM? Is this denial of the divisiveness that remains real?

United States Chief Justice John Roberts, writing on race recently, argued that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” (4)

Whatever one thinks about the status of race relations in the U.S., I don’t think medicine and health care are ready for Chief Justice Roberts’ prescription. Meeker is on to something. Let’s develop an “exit strategy” -  an integrated plan to be conscious, open, respectful of differences, and of history, and plan our way into unity. To exit this acknowledgment of actual distinctions is to deny the politics that continue to inform the movements for integrative medicine, integrative health and integrative practice.

  1. For the Delphi Method: 
  2. For the statutory language and information on the make-up of the NCCAM advisory council: 
  3. For the March 28, 2008 Charlie Rose show:  
  4. Chief Justice Roberts, cited in the New Yorker 

  5. - John Weeks

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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
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