History of WHMI

History of WHMI

The Whole Health Medicine Institute, founded by Dr. Lissa Rankin in 2013, has mystical roots. After a nudge from Jay Fiset, who suggested to Lissa at an Association of Transformational Leadership meeting that she might create a training program for doctors to invite them into a conscious way of practicing the Whole Health Medicine she practiced and taught in Mind Over Medicine, her National Public Television special, and in her TEDx talks, Lissa heard a mysterious guiding voice that dictated a letter with the title “Calling All Conscious Physicians.” When she told her friend and colleague Martha Beck, PhD about the letter, Martha lit up with a flurry of excitement and suggested that Lissa bring a group of doctors to Martha’s horse ranch for an initiation that could invite doctors into a whole new level of consciousness, one that would have ripple effects in the health care field. In March 2013, the first year’s class of the Whole Health Medicine Institute was born.

When Lissa envisioned the visionary faculty who could flesh out a radical training program that would marry consciousness and medicine, she called upon her friends and colleagues in the fields of mind-body medicine and spirituality-physicians like Rachel Naomi Remen, Deepak Chopra, Christiane Northrup, Bernie Siegel, and Larry Dossey, scientists like Joan Borysenko, PhD, Bruce Lipton, PhD, and Kelly Turner, PhD, shamans, energy healers, somatic awareness teachers, and therapists like Martín Prechtel, Brandy Gillmore, Steve Sisgold, and Anne Davin, PhD, and spiritual teachers and philosophers like Tosha Silver and Charles Eisenstein.


In the first year, the Whole Health Medicine Institute was limited to physicians only, but many others in the health care profession longed to participate—chiropractors, naturopaths, nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, Chinese medicine doctors, therapists, health coaches, and energy healers. Not wanting to exclude anyone who felt called to participate in a health care revolution, two separate classes emerged—one for physicians and one for all other health care providers. In the third year, however, it became apparent that by segregating physicians and other practitioners, we were contributing to a deep source of trauma within the system, reinforcing the hierarchy inherent within the medical system, wherein physicians rise to the top of a hierarchical pyramid, and everyone else is considered “below” the doctor. If our goal was to elevate consciousness in health care, we couldn’t do so while reproducing the artificial hierarchy. So in 2015, the classes merged, and the result was holy. Regardless of education status or letters after one’s name, all WHMI students are equally valued members of the “healing round table.” A male orthopedic surgeon seated next to a female energy healer or a male nurse in partnership with a female naturopath can then strike up a dialogue and pave the way for mutual respect and true collaboration. In doing so, not only do we all marry the tools in our respective toolboxes, bringing more gifts to offer to patients; we also heal each other and the system. Healing health care takes a village, and the Whole Health Medicine Institute is a gathering of the tribe, where those who are part of this revolution meet, unite, learn, and take inspired action in the direction of our individual and collective callings.


Graduates of the Whole Health Medicine Institute have taken what they learned during the program to incite revolutions inside and outside the health care systems. The influence of what is taught in WHMI curriculum has found its way into medical schools, nursing education, VA hospitals, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, managed care institutions, and mainstream hospitals. Some WHMI graduates have also opted to leave the mainstream systems and start private practices that utilize the methods of facilitation for radical self-healing that are taught in this program, intended to be used as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. One of the tenets of WHMI is that each graduate is invited to take what they have learned and integrate it with his or her own unique expertise, so that the teachings may be alchemized into a true calling that is entirely individual, while it is also a collective experience, invoking within each graduate a solid place in a movement to bring care back to health care.


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