When Bastyr University California opened in San Diego last fall, it became the state's only accredited college of naturopathic medicine. But it wasn't the only medical school in the area. Six other schools train medical students in Southern California, and Bastyr student Serina Aubrecht believes collaboration can benefit them all.
That's why she helped form an integrative medicine club between students at Bastyr and the nearby University of California, San Diego. The club is an early step toward building the cross-discipline cooperation among doctors that will ultimately serve their patients.
"I see integrative medicine as true teamwork among health care professionals to achieve the optimal treatment of patients," says Aubrecht, a first-year student in Bastyr's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) program. "Too often people think of integrative medicine as simply having a building with different kinds of doctors, referring to each other but not actually working as a team."
After launching this winter, the club's first goal is simply helping students at the two schools get to know each other, Aubrecht says. It held a mixer in January, hasa bar night planned in March and expects to hold more volunteer projects, beach barbecues and gatherings in the future. The club hopes to build relationships with other conventional medical (MD) and osteopathic (DO) programs and holistic health schools such as Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
"Even if we're all still in school right now, we can start learning how to work together by understanding what other health care professions do," says Aubrecht, who is also president of the campus Student Council and its chapter of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association. "That will help us work together on a team one day."
The club helps create the integrative spirit that faculty hope will come to define Bastyr University California, says faculty advisor Jessica A. Dominguez Rieg, PhD. The journal club at the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine also invited Bastyr students to join it in discussing recent publications in the field. More collaboration is in the works, Dr. Dominguez Rieg says.
"We're really creating an integrative community around health and medicine," she says. "San Diego is a great place for that because people are open-minded about these things. I think this club will serve as a great networking group."
Dr. Dominguez Rieg says it's key for medical students to learn to bridge disciplines before they develop habits otherwise.
"It's really important for them to learn to work together at this point in their training," she says. "They're early in their career paths and open to building new bridges, and that's where health care is heading."
Learn more about Bastyr's natural health degrees in Seattle and San Diego.