The Western health care system is broken. Nobody can dispute this. This doesn’t mean Western medicine hasn’t made miraculous strides in treating acute trauma, saving lives during emergencies like heart attacks and strokes, preventing and treating bacterial and viral infections, replacing damaged joints and organs, and optimizing medical and surgical techniques to repair what is broken or diseased in the body. If I’m in a massive car accident, get me to a Level 1 Trauma Center . . . please. If I get a raging case of pneumonia, give me the antibiotic—STAT. On behalf of patients everywhere who have had their lives saved and transformed by such advanced technology, a huge thank you to those who staff these ER’s and offer such life-saving treatments.
With that disclaimer (that I’m not in any way bashing the conventional medicine I was trained as an MD to perform), we all know that Western medicine is set up not as a health care system, but as a disease management system. As physicians, we are not well trained to help patients truly heal and transform in the face of chronic illness, pain disorders, cancer, heart disease, long-term disability, or a terminal diagnosis. The training that leads to our exceptional expertise fails to teach us how to help patients glean meaning from their illness, receive the messages the body may be delivering about how we’re living out of alignment with our soul’s truth, reduce disease-causing stress responses in the body, optimize the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms, develop spiritual, psychological, and moral maturity, and learn how to die gracefully, with an open heart.
My mentor Kitchen Table Wisdom author Rachel Naomi Remen, MD introduced The Healer’s Art curriculum into medical schools in 1991, and it is taught in over 70 medical schools in 9 countries. Yet the curriculum first and second year medical students learn about finding meaning in medicine, learning to cope with loss, standing wide-eyed and humble in the face of awe and mystery, and nurturing the wholeness in ourselves and our patients is often beaten out of doctors during the trauma of the next six to eight years of medical education. The Whole Health Medicine Institute aims to offer resources to doctors who have already completed their training and have lost touch with what called them to medicine in the first place, while also offering tools to practice Whole Health Medicine, either inside or outside of the conventional medical system.
So how do we restore meaning, purpose, joy, whole health, sanity, wholeheartedness, and a healthy orientation to service in ourselves and our doctors?
How do we help physicians heal from the burnout, compassion fatigue, and PTSD that medical training and hospital practice inevitably cause in the physicians who seek to heal others?
How can we awaken patients and practitioners to the data that proves that it takes more than changing your diet, adding an exercise program, or taking your vitamins to restore Whole Health?
How do we help patients perceive illness and injury not from the position of the helpless victim, but as an empowered partner entering a portal to awakening and an invitation to live a more soul-enriching life?
How do we reform a system that is so corrupted by greed, power, competition, materialism, and scientific dogma without demonizing those who need our love and know not what they do?
How can we get Whole Health Medicine to the underserved, indigent people who need it the most because they’ve been the most traumatized and marginalized?
These are some of the deep questions that percolate inside of me and fueled me to found the Whole Health Medicine Institute back in 2013.
Last year, I had to take a year off from leading the Whole Health Medicine Institute because my mother was dying, and in order to show up fully for that life-altering and life-ending journey, I needed to take some space from my activist work. The hidden advantage is that I got a year of space to revisit why I’m here, what my role is in reforming health care (and what it’s not), and how we can better serve the people with the most power in the medical system in order to activate the spark within that can help the right doctors find one another, collaborate, heal blocks, and do what we must to change the system.
Now, in this 11th hour of our health care crisis, we need all hands on deck. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for . . .
The Mission Of The Whole Health Medicine Institute
The Whole Health Medicine Institute was created as a way to:
- Help physicians heal from burnout and transform the traumas of being a doctor into passion, power, and practice.
- Guide doctors in remembering their wholeness, their vitality and their love of medicine.
- Train physicians to help facilitate a wholly integrated, evidence-based 6 Step process meant to offer deep transformation (with the possibility “radical remission”) to patients whose illnesses have not optimally responded to Western medicine, functional medicine, integrative medicine, diet/exercise, etc.
- Provide training and certification in a Whole Health Medicine that is beyond “functional medicine” or “integrative medicine,” not excluding these modalities but expanding to include them. Whole Health Medicine builds upon conventional Western medicine and functional and integrative medicine to incorporate trauma healing, Sacred Medicine, transpersonal and depth psychology, energy healing, and energy psychology as a necessary part of the healing journey.
- Inspire physicians inside the health care system to become “stealth agents of awareness,” reforming health care from the inside out.
- Awaken public health-oriented doctors who are interested in bringing the Whole Health philosophy and treatment style into public health arenas, as is already being implemented in Canadian public health via a former Whole Health Medicine Institute graduate.
- Open a gateway to alternative career opportunities and business education for doctors who aren’t willing to sell their souls for a paycheck or harm their patients by colluding with a system that doesn’t serve the whole health needs of patients one day longer. (Many of our former Whole Health Medicine Institute graduates are using the Whole Health philosophy and 6 Step process to run small, efficient, low overhead practices outside of the insurance-based system and getting miraculous results!)
The Whole Health Medicine Institute Class of 2018 will open enrollment in June 2018, and the class will begin with an in-person retreat in Mill Valley, CA in Fall, 2018. If you or a doctor you love might be interested in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, sign up to receive a formal invitation here and we’ll be sure to notify you when enrollment opens.
Many thanks to all of you who have given me so much support in doing this activist work. I appreciate your trust.
With love and gratitude,
If you’d like to be among the first to know when enrollment for the Whole Health Medicine Institute Class of 2018 opens, sign up here.
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