AAFP Announces Decision on Functional Medicine CME

Updated On: 2/21/2019

I want to share some important developments with you today concerning the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) and IFM. As you may know, in 2014 AAFP placed a moratorium on approving any programs related to Functional Medicine for prescribed continuing medical education (CME) credit. AAFP determined that “a lack of accompanying evidence existed to support the practice of Functional Medicine” and cited “some treatments as harmful and dangerous.”

As part of its process to review our programs, in September 2017 AAFP opened a call for comment on the efficacy of Functional Medicine.

In an effort to provide a better understanding of how our programs were developed, we supplied AAFP with evidence-based literature and clinical feedback demonstrating the efficacy, safety, and effectiveness of Functional Medicine education for all family physicians. In addition, we asked our physician partners to participate in the “call for comment” process.

Earlier this week, we finally received news regarding the outcome of AAFP’s evaluation:

  • The AAFP’s Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) was provided with a summarized report, which, in conjunction with several literature reviews and the results of an AAFP member survey, helped inform their decision to lift the moratorium on Functional Medicine.
  • The COCPD’s topic-specific guidance on Functional Medicine now says: “Activities and sessions eligible for credit are limited to those that provide clinicians with an overview or scope of Functional Medicine and the techniques that Functional Medicine practitioners use, so family physicians can educate interested patients about the topic.”
  • “Activities and sessions for credit that are ineligible include those that teach clinicians how to perform techniques, modalities or applications of Functional Medicine in their clinical practices.”

While this wasn’t the exact outcome we had hoped for, there are some positives that should not be overlooked:

  • In response to the groundswell of support for Functional Medicine both within and outside our community, we are thrilled to see AAFP take a step forward and recognize the merits of Functional Medicine.
  • The decision demonstrates that the patient demand for Functional Medicine continues to grow and supports IFM’s efforts to introduce clinicians to the model to help answer patient questions.

In the end, this decision stops short of rewarding physicians for learning how to apply this effective model in clinical care. But we will not be deterred by this temporary setback. We want to thank our community for their support and advocacy and we promise to continue our work to advance the widespread adoption of Functional Medicine and to have all aspects of our curriculum approved for CME credit with AAFP.

The quote from COCPD Chair Melody Jordahl-Iafrato, MD, gives us confidence that we can succeed in our efforts:

“The COCPD understands that many family physicians have an interest in Functional Medicine and we’ll continue to review this topic as more research is done.”

Rest assured, we are committed to helping AAFP better understand how Functional Medicine provides effective treatments to the patients who need them most.

Again, thank you for all you do to advance the widespread adoption of Functional Medicine. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out.


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