Program in Integrative Medicine Accepts Physicians to Its Integrative Medicine Fellowship

George Humphrey
Feb. 7, 2001


The Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson has accepted three physicians to its integrative medicine fellowship, the first of its kind in the nation. Three new fellows, Monica Myklebust, M.D., James Nicolai, M.D., and Melissa Young, M.D., join Diane Clawson, D.O., and Joy Weydert, M.D., whose fellowships in pediatric integrative medicine began in July.

Under the leadership of Andrew Weil, M.D., founder and director of the UA Program in Integrative Medicine, and Victoria Maizes, M.D., the program's medical director, the five fellows will spend two years studying the theory and practice of integrative medicine. Integrative medicine seeks to combine the best ideas and practices of conventional and alternative medicine into cost-effective treatments that will be in the best interests of patients and that aim to stimulate the human body's natural healing potentials.

Fellows study a core philosophy of natural healing, history of medicine, the nature of scientific research, and the basis of mind/body interactions. The curriculum includes healing-oriented medicine, the philosophy of science, the art of medicine, culture and medicine, research education, mind/body medicine, spirituality medicine, nutrition, phyto-medicine, energy medicine, and lifestyle medicine. The fellows also will train in guided imagery, acupuncture and osteopathic manipulation.

The fellowship program is designed to train national leaders who will establish similar programs in this new discipline at other schools and bring integrative medicine into major health care systems. As a part of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, the Program in Integrative Medicine is subject to the same guidelines, rules, responsibilities and standards as other training programs in the College of Medicine.

Selected from physician applicants from around the world, the fellows bring a variety of experiences to the program.

Monica Myklebust, M.D., a family practice physician from Minneapolis, Minn., received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota and completed her residency in family medicine at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. She believes that her role as a physician is primarily that of educator and guide, with the goal of individual empowerment. She is committed to transformation of the medical education and health care systems. "This transformation will result in physicians who are trained to incorporate many modalities of healing toward the goal of optimal health," she says. "The most effective and least invasive options will be prioritized. Health care systems will transform to accommodate this integrative medicine approach because it will be shown to be in the best interest of patients' health, it will be cost effective, and there will be market demand."

James Nicolai, M.D., a family practice physician from Indianapolis, Ind., received his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in Bloomington. He served his internship at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Following his family practice training at St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers in Beech Grove, Ind., he joined St. Francis Immediate Care Center as a staff physician. Dr. Nicolai believes that "not only should doctors serve as educators, counselors, listeners and even students for their patients," but they should strive to live as examples of mental, spiritual and physical balance. Dr. Nicolai plans to develop an integrative medicine healing center, "a mixture of clinic and spa, intended to educate and facilitate the treatment of individuals interested in assisting themselves on their journey toward healing."

Melissa Young, M.D., who is board-certified in internal medicine, received her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in Bronx, N.Y., and completed her residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Following residency training she assisted in medicine and rheumatology private practice. Prior to joining the fellowship program she was with the Lenox Hill Hospital Department of Emergency Services and the Local 32BJ Health Center in New York City. A certified Reiki II practitioner, she is interested in mind/body medicine, energy healing and meditation. Her patient care experiences have led her "to believe that it is with integration of allopathic and alternative healing modalities, in conjunction with partnership between patient and physician, that we can truly achieve wellness and allow the whole person to access it's own healing capabilities."

Diane Clawson, D.O., received her degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania and completed an internship in osteopathy at Millcreek Community Hospital in Erie, Penn. Prior to joining the pediatric integrative medicine fellowship program, she completed an internship in psychiatry and a residency in pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque. "I wanted the opportunity to do research in integrative medicine, specifically on the role of osteopathic manipulation," says Dr. Clawson. "I have been interested in the psychological, physiological and behavioral responses to touch, as well as the developmental effects that occur with neonatal handling." Her professional goals include integrating her interests in pediatrics, osteopathy, mind-body connection, nutrition and research. Her research experience includes two years as a research assistant in the UA Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine, and two years as a research assistant in the Department of Anatomy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Joy Weydert, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician, was in private practice in general and critical care pediatrics in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, prior to joining the pediatric integrative medicine fellowship program. She received an undergraduate degree in nursing from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, and worked for 10 years as a nurse before pursuing a medical degree from the University of Kansas. During her residency in pediatrics at Indiana University in Indianapolis, she cared for children in Kenya where the IU School of Medicine was collaborating with Kenya's Moi University to establish a medical school. Following her residency, she joined a multi-specialty pediatric group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She also worked in Western Alaska with the native people of the Yupik culture. Many of the families she treated were eager to care for themselves and sought support from their physician in this endeavor. She found that by educating parents on nutrition, child growth and development, lifestyle choices, exercise, safety and self-care, they could incorporate these models of wellness into their family and prevent ailments brought on by unhealthy life choices. "This seemed to be the ideal of integrative medicine--to start early in the child's life with the education and be there to reinforce and support along the way, being respectful of, and open to, their needs during each stage of life," she says.

Following a two-month orientation, the fellows will begin seeing a limited number of patients in the integrative medicine clinic this month, including, for the first time, a limited number of pediatric patients. The clinic provides fellows opportunities to learn, study and practice integrative approaches.

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