Both organizations will collaborate to advance strategic initiatives that diversify the medical workforce and support FQHC primary care providers serving historically medically underserved communities
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), a 10,000-member medical professional association, and the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU), which serves more than 26,000 medical professionals, organizations, and health care advocates nationwide, today announced a partnership that will equip hundreds of thousands of physicians with education and training to further their practice and better treat chronic disease among historically medically underserved patients. The partnership will help clinicians treat, prevent, and even reverse lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities that have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, while advancing each organization's mission to diversify the medical workforce.
With the majority of ACU's membership consisting of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) clinicians, a major component of the partnership includes ACLM's National Training Initiative, providing scholarships to at least one primary care provider at each of the nation's more than 1,400 FQHCs to support training and certification in lifestyle medicine, the medical specialty that uses evidence-based therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The National Training Initiative and ACLM's complimentary 5.5-hour CME/CE-accredited "Lifestyle Medicine and Food as Medicine Essentials" online course are part of ACLM's continuing commitment to last fall's White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. The Essentials course will support this ACLM-ACU partnership and benefit tens of thousands of other clinicians across the U.S.
ACU is a uniquely transdisciplinary membership network uniting clinicians, advocates, and organizations in advocacy and clinical, operational and equity excellence to support clinicians caring for America's underserved communities. According to research, underrepresented in medicine (UIM) clinicians are more likely to practice in and treat patients from disadvantaged neighborhoods. New research found that Black patients have better health outcomes when their medical provider is also Black. Therefore, the need to develop and support UIM medical professionals is critical to ensuring that patients from historically medically underserved communities have quality health care.
ACLM's Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) Initiative Scholarship Program, which opens each year in January, will be available to ACU members who are UIM clinicians doing innovative lifestyle medicine work that is impacting communities in need. The HEAL Initiative Scholarship Program, prepares participants to sit for the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (ABLM) Certification Exam. Since launching the scholarship in 2020, nearly 60 UIM medical professionals have been awarded the $3,500 scholarship and nearly 70 percent of them passed the board exam.
"The synergy between ACLM and ACU is unmatched," said ACLM Executive Director Susan Benigas. "More importantly, though, ACU's strategic focus on health equity makes this partnership paramount in advancing ACLM's HEAL Initiative, our commitment to address lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities, and to diversify the lifestyle medicine workforce with UIM clinicians who are on the front lines of delivering care to some of our nation's most underserved patients."
Earlier this year, ACLM's HEAL Initiative expanded its priorities to develop a FQHC outreach strategy. This ACU partnership, leveraging its Centers of Excellence and other initiatives to improve outcomes for health center patients, is a key strategy component. The Centers of Excellence program aims to identify and develop a framework of standards and create supportive resources to help health centers develop their capacity and excellence in critical areas to improve health equity. Thus, ACU and ACLM will collaborate to raise awareness about emerging issues and opportunities, best practices, case studies, and new research and data that can impact health centers across the country. In addition, to ensure that health center clinicians have the tools and resources they need to practice lifestyle medicine, ACU will co-construct a strategy for incorporating lifestyle medicine training into Teaching Health Center graduate medical education (GME) and other synergistic opportunities serving health center medical professionals.
"This strategic collaboration is a natural evolution of ACU and ACLM's shared commitment to advancing whole-person, accessible, and equitable care for all," said ACU Executive Director Amanda Pears Kelly. "Through the HEAL Initiative and beyond, this vital partnership will allow us to further support our FQHC community's clinical, operational, and equity excellence to reduce health inequities in and improve care for America's historically medically underserved communities."
ACU is the leading voice for the National Health Service Corps and a national advocate for the health center workforce and health equity. Given both organizations' role in advancing policy and supporting legislation, the partnership will continue to explore alignment and potential collaboration on advocacy and public policy positions and initiatives.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is the nation's medical professional society advancing lifestyle medicine as the foundation for a redesigned, value-based and equitable healthcare delivery system, leading to whole-person health. ACLM educates, equips, empowers and supports its members through quality, evidence-based education, certification and research to identify and eradicate the root cause of chronic disease, with a clinical outcome goal of health restoration as opposed to disease management.
The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) is a uniquely transdisciplinary membership association uniting clinicians, advocates, and organizations in the commitment to establishing a robust and diverse workforce to help transform communities to achieve health equity for all. Founded in 1996 by participants in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), ACU is the foremost advocate for the NHSC and leads advocacy, clinical, operational, and equity excellence and supports the healthcare workforce caring for America's under-resourced populations. Learn more at clinicians.org.
Stacia Johnston, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, 718-974-7213, [email protected], lifestylemedicine.org
Rick Brown, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, 703-203-2432, [email protected], clinicians.org
SOURCE American College of Lifestyle Medicine