Debbie Sanstad IFMCP Scholarship

In memory of longtime Institute for Functional Medicine team member Debbie Sanstad, IFM is awarding an annual scholarship that covers the cost of all coursework in IFM’s Certification Program (IFMCP). The scholarship is open to clinicians who are at the beginning of the IFM Certification Pathway.

Honoring Its Namesake

Debbie Sanstad dedicated 12 years of her life to helping to build IFM and expand the role of functional medicine in health care. She found great benefit in utilizing functional medicine in her own personal health journey and valued supporting clinicians along their own paths to functional medicine. Debbie loved attending IFM programs in person to connect with attendees and the community. It is this genuine investment in the functional medicine community that would have made Debbie so proud of this effort in her honor to support the next generation of functional medicine practitioners. It is IFM’s wish that awarding this scholarship annually to an individual who is starting out on their path to IFM certification will provide enduring impact in Debbie’s name and help support our mission of the widespread adoption of functional medicine. This is just as Debbie would have wanted.

It is an honor to have this scholarship in my mother’s name. She was always a diligent and hard-working employee who thrived on being with a wonderful team of people at IFM. We hope the recipient of this scholarship will remember to work hard, find compassion for patients, and spur not only themselves but also peers toward embodying a holistic health lifestyle.

 -- Nikki Groth, Debbie’s daughter

Scholarship Details

  • Clinicians applying to the Debbie Sanstad Memorial Scholarship in Functional Medicine must have taken at least one of the following IFM courses:
  • Clinicians will still be eligible to apply for the scholarship if they have taken two or fewer of IFM’s programs required for certification. If awarded the scholarship, IFM will cover the tuition for all remaining IFMCP programs.
  • Clinicians must qualify for IFMCP to be eligible.
  • The intent of the scholarship is to award people at the beginning of the IFM Certification pathway; therefore, those who have taken more than two IFMCP program are not eligible.
  • Clinicians must reside in the United States (Next year, the Debbie Sanstad scholarship will be open only to candidates who reside outside of the United States).

Benefits and Regulations

  • The scholarship award will include the registration cost of all uncompleted IFMCP path programs (AFMCP and the 6 APMs), the IFMCP Review Course, IFM’s Annual International Conference taking place in the year the scholarship is awarded, and the IFMCP application fee.
  • The scholarship recipient will get to choose their preferred learning format (livestream or in-person). Note that only tuition is included in the scholarship, so for in-person attendance, the recipient will be responsible for the cost of travel, lodging, food, etc.
  • The scholarship recipient must follow all IFMCP policies and procedures, including taking the IFM Certification Exam within 4 years of acceptance into the Certification Program.
  • Certification Program costs not included in the scholarship award include:
    • IFM Membership
    • IFMCP case fee and case remediation fees (if needed)
    • IFMCP written test fee
    • IFMCP Costs associated with re-certification/maintenance of certification

Applications are now CLOSED. If you submitted an application, you will hear back by May 13th. If you have any questions, please email 

Sign Up to be Notified when the Next Application Cycle is Open:

If you have any questions, please email


Debbie’s Functional Medicine Story

Headshot Debbie Sanstad

Longtime Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) team member Debbie Sanstad was a genuine person who positively impacted everyone she encountered and who earnestly dedicated her working hours to advancing IFM’s mission. Debbie learned a lot about functional medicine through her time at IFM and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, in addition to conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Debbie learned how to incorporate functional medicine approaches to her cancer, and later went into remission.

In January of 2019, Debbie found out that she had advanced metastatic bone cancer. Debbie again incorporated functional medicine into her treatment. Thanks to her optimism and determination, Debbie was able to spend twice as long with family and friends than would normally be expected. In February of 2020, Debbie passed away peacefully in her sleep. Her family strongly believes it was functional medicine and the related conscious choices that graciously allowed them an additional four years with her. It is IFM’s honor to be able to keep her memory alive while supporting future functional medicine practitioners and the widespread adoption of functional medicine.

Please email with questions.