Recently, I became certified in Functional Medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFMCP). So excited to hold this prestigious title! Certification involved a three year journey with lots of travel, studying and learning to help people overcome disease. I am so grateful to have met so many other motivated providers learning to help their patients in a new ways. Many have also asked about this process and want to know exactly what is Functional Medicine! Therefore, I will explain the process and practice of Functional Medicine in this post.
Many types of providers can become certified in Functional Medicine. These include chiropractors, nutritionists, advanced nursing providers, naturopaths, health coaches and more. Licensed physicians, like myself, have an opportunity to expand upon their medical knowledge, skills and experience. Medical doctors hold the opportunity to help people in both conventional AND functional ways. Utilizing both can be extremely helpful for helping with health.
Functional Medicine History
Functional Medicine began in the 1990’s as a movement recognizing that illness and disease involve causes and inflammatory processes. Jeff Bland, as founder, recognized that diseases have triggers. As a result, if you can locate and reverse these triggers you can make an impact and reverse disease. Genetics can play a role, but alone genetics does not usually cause the problem in its entirety. Environment and lifestyle of the individual intricately play a role in the development of chronic disease. For instance, one may have the genes that promote autoimmune disease, but an environmental trigger is needed in order to activate those genes and promote autoimmunity. Finding and removing the trigger is key.
The Path to Certification
Becoming a Certified Practitioner of Functional Medicine (IFMCP) involves attending and completing seven core modules in Functional Medicine. The modules are 3-5 days long and focus on different subject areas. The initial module is called AFMCP (Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice) and is an overview of all modules and the specific details on how to practice as a functional practitioner.
Functional practitioners will look deeply into your lifestyle and environment to see if anything that has happened can be changed to improve outcomes. They will usually create a timeline that surrounds the illness that is in question that extends back to birth and beyond! Many of the concepts of Functional Medicine stem from unhealthy balances in our nutritional status and toxic exposures.
The functional medicine program addresses the important issues that lead to health problems and divides them into seven core modules. The process is very professional and organized with plenty of support staff to help. Speakers include celebrities like Mark Hyman, Jeff Bland, Robert Roundtree and many many more.
Although any core module may be taken first, the AFMCP is best if you are wanting to begin practicing in a functional way. The other six modules are 3 days in length and include the following:
1. Hormone module
2. Energy module (mitochondrial function)
3. Cardiovascular Module
4. Immune Module
5. GI Module
6. Detoxification Module.
Each of these modules are offered at different locations twice per year.
After completion of the above modules you are asked to complete an extensive case presentation to document you understand the concepts presented in Functional Medicine. Finally, after all the above are complete, you sit for an extremely challenging four hour exam. Each of these segments costs between 1800-3800 dollars not including travel!!
If you do not pass the exam you can retake at the next opportunity. Many of my partners did not pass the exam the first time as it is very difficult.
I am so happy to be certified! It has been an amazing journey.
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