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Holistic Health: A Hit at University Conference

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Many health care consumers would agree: finding a holistically-oriented medical doctor can be downright But those attending the student-organized conference on inte-grative medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in January, received proof that they exist when not one, not two, but a handful of doctors shed their lab coats for the sake of sharing their knowledge

Many health care consumers would agree: finding a holistically-oriented medical doctor can be downright But those attending the student-organized conference on inte-grative medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in January, received proof that they exist when not one, not two, but a handful of doctors shed their lab coats for the sake of sharing their knowledge.

In keeping with the gathering's "integrative" theme, more than 180 enthusiasts met at UBC's First Nations House of Learning, a locale noted for its blend of First Nations and modern architecture. Hosted by the Alternative and Integrative Medical Society (AIMS), of UBC, the conference became what one participant labeled, "an organic experience."

The ensuing turnout was impressive, with many science students (65), medical doctors-in-training (20), public citizens and others in the crowd. Attendees of BC's new naturopathic college and local Traditional Chinese Medicine institutions also made appearances.

Regardless of chosen health field, all participants could agree that there was no reason to complain with the reasonable, student-oriented fee.

"I can't believe I got so much for such a low price! I don't know how you did it, but I'm grateful," commented one medical student on the feedback form.

Barb Findlay, RN, BSN, began with an early morning introduction to various forms of alternative medicine. As coordinator of clinical research and professional practice at the Tzu Chi Institute, she deems it necessary to remain open-minded in the face of changing medical practices.

"If you only have a hammer," she said, "then all you see is nails."

The remaining guest lecturers were equally well received. Lionel Wilson, president of Maverick Marketing; Allison McCutcheon, PhD, president of the Canadian Herb Society; Zoey Ryan, RDN, of Springwell Nutrition Group; Allan Best, PhD, senior scientist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation; and Debbie Monkman, information services librarian for the Tzu Chi Institute. All key speakers contributed to the day's success.

But for many questing students in search of a viable career, the best of the conference was left until the last. Those determined to stay all that sunny Saturday witnessed a special panel discussion comprised of Hal Gunn, MD; Stephen Malthouse, MD; Kevin Nolan, MD, ND; Anthony Ocana, RDN, MD; and Gerard Tan, DTCM.

Indeed, there was no shortage of questions as each panel member frankly described the ins-and-outs of using integrated therapies. The crowd's positive response was visible, and for students and planners, it was an exercise worth repeating.

"We learned a few things for next time," said AIMS president Ashley Riskin, a four-year biochemistry student. "Next year's challenge is going to be living up to and improving upon expectations."

On the Agenda:

  • What is integrative, complementary, alternative, holistic or conventional?
  • Observations of health conscious consumers, governmental issues, our evolving healthcare system.
  • Herbs: descriptions, how they interact with conventional medicine, government restrictions and monitoring, sources for credible information.
  • Importance of nutrition in health.
  • New research and developments in alternative medicine
  • How to search effectively for information on alternative, complementary and integrative
    medicine.
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