Shrinking Borders, Expanding Worlds: IAYT and YA Co-Sponsor the First National Educational Dialogue
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Shrinking Borders, Expanding Worlds: IAYT and YA Co-Sponsor the First National Educational Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care
by Veronica Zador and John Kepner


In a groundbreaking move, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and Yoga Alliance (YA) jointly co-sponsored the first National Educational Dialogue  (NED) to Advance Integrative Health Care, held May 31- June 3, 2005 in Washington, D.C. This event was an innovative gathering of educators from conventional medical schools, academic health centers, and federally accredited complimentary and alternative medicine ( CAM ) educational institutions. All of the attending institutions have expressed a commitment to finding the common ground between conventional and CAM health care education and values. Yoga was the only non-licensed discipline represented at this event. Indeed, to our knowledge, this is the first time Yoga has been formally represented at a national event of this kind.

Veronica Zador, president of IAYT and vice president of YA, and Ivan Zador, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering with long experience in academic medicine, spent four days at this meeting. John Kepner , executive director of IAYT, and Hansa Knox, president of YA, spearheaded the participation and cooperative support of the two organizations. 

Background and Rationale for the NED Meeting

The National Educational Dialogue (NED) is a multi-year educational project of the Education Task Force of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium. NED is a national vehicle for educators from CAM and conventional health care professionals to convene annually, engage in collaborative projects, and report on progress. NED was created in response to a long series of events concerning complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, including two recent national health care policy studies: the 2002 report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WCCAMP), and the 2005 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Both reports emphasized the importance of collaboration between CAM and conventional institutions. 

WCCAMP recommended, "agencies should convene a conference of the leaders of CAM, conventional health, public health, evolving health professions, and the public; of educational institutions; and of appropriate organizations to facilitate the establishment of CAM education and training guidelines." The IOM report noted “the integration of CAM therapies with conventional medicine requires that practitioners and researchers be open to diverse interpretations of health and healing, to finding innovative ways of obtaining evidence and to expanding the medical knowledge base” 

The NED vision is “a health care system that is multidisciplinary and enhances competence, mutual respect and collaboration across all CAM and conventional health care disciplines. This system will deliver effective care that is patient-centered, focused on health creation and healing, and readily accessible to all populations.”

The Meeting

Participants at the NED meeting included 77 leading representatives of federally accredited CAM and conventional educational institutions, including Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage, Direct-Entry Midwifery, and Naturopathic Medicine, plus Allied Health Educators, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, Conventional Academic Medicine, Integrated Health Care Educators, Nursing and Public Health. As co-sponsors for this meeting, IAYT and YA sent two delegates (Veronica Zador and Ivan Zador) to represent Yoga as an emerging field in integrative health care.

The tone of the meeting was set at the opening lecture, delivered by Stuart Bondurant, M.D., President of the Institute of Medicine . Dr. Bondurant highlighted the historic events leading up to this meeting, including the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care (NPD), and the WHCCAMP and IOM reports. He urged those in attendance to find strong common educational platforms on which to base the future partnerships of CAM systems and conventional medicine. 

Navigating the meeting with sensitive oversight and distinct professional and organizational skills were John Weeks, Project Director of the NED meeting, and Pamela Snider, N.D., Consortium Director. Adi Haramati, Ph.D., Director of Education in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University ’s School of Medicine , served as host and NED planning team manager. Dale Lick, Ph.D., former president of Georgia Southern University, University of Maine , and Florida State University , moderated the lectures, small group breakout sessions, table discussions, and the World Café brain storming session.

Goals and Outcomes

The objectives of this meeting, as described in the NED Vision, Mission , Goals and Deliverables statement approved on September 22, 2004, were divided into three categories and included:

Educational Guidelines

  • Establish both a process and commitments for developing a compatible set of core competencies and values across disciplines.
  • Create a process for distinguishing and describing portable, shared, and adjunctive competencies.
  • Prepare and deliver a glossary to support the use of common language.

Of particular interest in this category was the model for Educational Resources to Enhance Delivery of Collaborative Healthcare. It is beyond the scope of this report to describe this investigation fully. In brief, questions relating to this topic included: What kind of skills in clinical collaboration do we need to teach our students, so that they can provide collaborative, interdisciplinary patient-centered care? What leadership and collaborative skills do we (NED participants) need to develop for more effective inter-institutional and intra-institutional collaboration?

In response to the above questions, templates and survey blueprints on educational resources and curriculum were discussed. 

Enhancing Inter-Institutional Relationships and Mutual Support

  • Provide designated program time for exchange of information on successful programs and tactics in current working models of integrated health care education.
  • Collect and disseminate participants’ samples of existing inter-institutional agreements and relationships that advance integrated healthcare education.
  • Offer designated program time on strategies of interdisciplinary teaching.

Ongoing Work

  • Complete a meeting report that includes agreed upon positions and talking points for participant's use.
  • Create plans for continues communication among participants, including subsequent meetings.
  • Interweave the development of strategies and skills for fostering institutional change throughout the work.
  • Establish both a process and commitments for collaborating on fundraising to advance the work.

Furthermore, in order to accomplish these tasks, the NED meeting worked towards several goals, including:

  • Exploring common ground established by the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Healthcare and the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, as well as successful experience in integrated education.
  • Articulating shared values and creating action plans based on common understanding of core issues in integrated education.
  • Examining best practices concerning relationships between CAM and conventional health care institutions, including identifying practical models for how CAM institutions can collaborate with conventional medical institutions and programs.
  • Offering networking opportunities to facilitate effective collaboration among NED participants and their organizations.


Many valuable contacts with other NED participants were made, and Yoga was placed on the map of those involved with CAM at the academic and research levels. There is a reasonable chance that with this first effort, Yoga will be included among future NED planning events and activities.

We encourage the boards of both IAYT and YA to promote awareness of Yoga by sharing information with like-minded CAM systems. In doing so, Yoga stands to gain opportunities for research, education, and funding. Additionally, communicating with other CAM systems may help us discover common strategies for adapting traditional healing systems to a conventional arena. 

Furthermore, we recommend that the boards of IAYT and YA strongly consider future representation in meetings of this kind. The presence of Yoga in an environment such as this does not imply Yoga is seeking to become a licensed discipline. However, representatives of Yoga do gain an exceptional and relevant insight into other like-minded organizational structures, historic influences on the established CAM disciplines, and a wide range of contemporary challenges in an integrative approach to health and healing.

Additionally, a Yoga presence at such events allows for an expanded awareness of Yoga by CAM and integrative medicine institutions. This awareness may lead to the inclusion of Yoga in the broadening scope of CAM research, education and clinical practice.

Commentary:  How did IAYT and YA come to be involved?

Because the NED CAM participants were from federally accredited CAM educational institutions, no Yoga association or representative was initially invited to this meeting, nor were representatives of any other unlicensed CAM discipline.   

While Yoga is recognized as a mind-body practice, it is not effectively recognized as a professional discipline, at least in the United States . This is, in part, because practitioners are not licensed, (the conventional credentialing model) but also because Yoga has simply not been represented at national policy discussions. IAYT has been aware of this absence for some time, and also aware of the progressive vision of NED and its predecessors. (A system focused on health creation and healing sounds Yogic to us.)  

This event presented a unique opportunity to initiate a formal presence and meet some of the most innovative and open-minded leaders in integrative health care in the U.S. IAYT contacted the NED organizers and asked if we could attend the meeting. They were intrigued and receptive, and invited IAYT to co-sponsor this event with the other invited CAM associations. IAYT in turn contacted the Yoga Alliance to share sponsorship and participation.  It is important support for the missions of both organizations to present an organized professional voice for Yoga in national integrative health care forums such as this.