Functional Medicine Training for Physicians If you are interested in becoming a functional medicine physician you have amazing timing, the world is overflowing with patients looking for a doctor that can go beyond conventional medical concepts and embrace the beliefs and practices of functional medicine. So what is a functional medicine physician? A functional physician looks at body “function” prior to the onset of disease and believes that organs, tissues and cells begin to “function” poorly long before a full disease process sets in. If we can catch a health crisis while it’s still in it’s early stages of organ dysfunction we can avoid people developing more serious illnesses. I’ve been heavily involved in functional medicine training for physicians since 1997 and continue to devote myself to this work. There are many options for training in functional medicine for physicians and it’s confusing for many doctors to figure out the landscape and determine what programs may best suit them. It all really depends on what being a functional medicine physician may mean to you. Do you want to practice as a functional medicine physician full time or part time? Do you want to continue practicing your area of specialty in medicine and mix in functional medicine, for example, continue to deliver primary care and practice functional medicine? Do you want to leave your current medical practice and work towards building a full time functional medicine practice? Many doctors dabble in functional medicine and give patients little snippets of advice but don’t get in depth on ordering specialized labs and figuring out true root causes of health problems. There is a wide spectrum from doctors that might focus on vegan or Paleo diets to those that will order a battery of complex functional medicine tests and offer things like IV chelation or Lyme disease or mold treatment protocols. I’m a strong advocate for figuring out what is going to create the most satisfying career for yourself and plunging in and going for it. Where I see a ton of potential functional medicine physicians is sitting on a fence. Hesitating. Wanting to practice functional medicine but not sure how to get started. To get started take an online class or better yet go to a live conference and see if the work appeals to you. If it does then find a local practitioner who is successfully doing the work and take them out for lunch and see if what they tell you inspires you to look further. Once you are fully committed then search around for the best training program in functional medicine in terms of fit. My classes are very action oriented and we test and treat patients as part of the course curriculum. If this idea freaks you out and you think you need more exposure to functional medicine concepts then attend online or in person courses that offer a more academic approach first. There are many of these including IFM and A4M. Pick a module that seems like the most interesting to you or for a broad survey course take IFM's AFMCP which is a week long introduction to the field. There is a severe shortage of well trained functional medicine physicians right now so if this is a career move you are contemplating go for it and investigate more to figure out if the work we do in functional medicine will suit you and your personal goals. The most well respected conferences in functional medicine are taught by the Institute For Functional Medicine and their faculty are incredible people to learn from.