With two new certificate programs, Jefferson’s department of integrative medicine and nutritional sciences works to optimize people’s health.
Dr. Daniel Monti cringes when people describe his career path and life’s passion as “alternative medicine.”
“We don’t do anything as an alternative to good medical care,” he says. “For us, it’s how do we add value to the excellent care out there.”
Dr. Monti chairs Jefferson’s department of integrative medicine and nutritional sciences and literally wrote the book on the field. Integrative medicine addresses the whole person—body, mind and spirit—to help people optimize their health and maintain vitality long-term, using a broad range of evidence-based therapies.
The University established the department 18 months ago in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College with the support of a $20 million commitment from the Marcus Foundation. The department—a first in academic medicine—formalizes the teaching of integrative medicine alongside other medical departments.
“We now can really expand our educational offerings,” explains Dr. Monti, co-author of “Tapestry of Health: Weaving Wellness Into Your Life Through the New Science of Integrative Medicine.”
Jefferson recently awarded the first full-time fellowship of its kind in integrative medicine and launched two graduate certificate programs for nine credits each.
The mind-body medicine advanced practice certificate focuses on strategies to reduce stress and improve health-related quality of life.
“Jefferson has the largest mindfulness-based stress-reduction program in the country, and we perform cutting-edge research on mind-body techniques, such as the neuro-emotional technique,” says Dr. Monti, who also serves as CEO of Jefferson’s Marcus Institute for Integrative Health. “We put together this program because we really have been leaders in this area.”
The integrative nutrition advanced practice certificate helps healthcare professionals develop a patient-centered care plan using biometric data and evidence-based nutritional lifestyle medicine approaches to improve outcomes.
Dr. Bryan Levey, a physician with Advocare Greentree Pediatrics in Marlton, N.J., is currently enrolled in the integrative nutrition certificate and will start the mind-body medicine program in the fall.
He has practiced integrative medicine for the past 15 years but often struggled to find the most current or detailed science. All of that changed when he attended an integrative nutrition meeting at Jefferson last fall.
“Frankly, it was the most informative conference I’ve ever been to in my career,” says Dr. Levey, a pediatrician since 1994. “They gave me more information in one hour than I had gotten in most conferences in the past.”
Once he heard about the two new certificates, “I jumped at the chance,” Dr. Levey says. He already has recommended them to several people, including his daughter Peri Levey, a third-year Sidney Kimmel Medical College student.
“If you want to be at the forefront of medicine, regardless of your specialty, you need to learn integrative medicine,” he says. “It’s that simple.
“The United States is 37th in the world in terms of outcomes even though we have the best drugs and technology,” Dr. Levey continues. “There’s a reason for that. We don’t practice medicine in terms of people’s good health. We’re putting Band-Aids on things. These courses provide me with information to make people well, not just cure sickness.”
We don’t do anything as an alternative to good medical care. For us, it’s how do we add value to the excellent care out there. –Dr. Daniel Monti
Dr. Monti agrees with Dr. Levey that medicine must shift from merely “putting out the fires” of acute conditions to optimizing health through a whole-person model, examining issues like diet, sleep hygiene, activity level and stress.
“That’s one of the ways that integrative medicine adds value,” he says, noting interest in the field continues to grow, especially among young professionals. “Medical students are beating down our door to do rotations with us. People are hungry for understanding more about these things and want to integrate it into some component of how they practice now.”
Based on this continued excitement, the University will add a third graduate certificate and a master’s degree in integrative health sciences in the future.
On the research side, Marcus Institute for Integrative Health investigators have begun working on a clinical trial to test high-dose vitamin C to improve recovery for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“Jefferson is an international leader,” Dr. Monti says, “and as a community, we’re committed to innovation and thinking outside the box.”