Functional Medicine Residency Improves Outcomes

Thanks to IFM’s collaborating partnership, more than 400 practitioners have received functional medicine training through the Tallahassee (FL) Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program (FMRP). Twenty of these practitioners have also received training at IFM’s Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) course. This partnership has resulted in the successful treatment of more than 1,000 patients since 2011.

FMRP Founders Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, and Cathy Snapp, PhD, designed the residency as a Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (MBTLC) program, which builds upon IFM’s modifiable lifestyle factors in the functional medicine matrix. Various iterations of this six-month program enrolled participants with diabetes, at risk for metabolic syndrome, and/or with several other comorbidities. The data across all iterations showed improved quality of life, increased mindfulness, and reduced markers of inflammation.

As the result of these successful MBTLC pilot studies, in fall 2016 FMRP implemented an ongoing 16-week cardiometabolic medical visit program. Each week, 12 patients attend a two-hour program to learn about lifestyle, making healthy choices, and coping with emotions. Meanwhile, these patients rotate through 15-minute clinical appointments with a practitioner and a shadow resident.

This unique program is beneficial for both practitioners and patients: practitioners are able to integrate functional medicine into their practice without sacrificing reimbursement, and patients are able to receive functional medicine-based care. “Basically, the Matrix came to life,” Snapp said.

According to Snapp, patients began to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into their everyday lives. Likewise, physician residents said it was the most exciting thing they had done in medicine. “What’s unique about this is that it shows the organic story of people with vision and people with heart,” Snapp said.

After operating for several years on $8 million in state and federal grants and $100,000 in IFM scholarships, FMRP now fully integrates functional medicine without external funding. Snapp and DeBusk have now moved on from FMRP to facilitate the development of MBTLC programs inside residencies across the United States. Their departure and the loss of grant funding, however, has not slowed FMRP from continuing to train clinicians in the functional medicine model: the cardiometabolic medical visit program is slated to occur in spring and fall 2017 and will even begin to include an adolescent track.

IFM is excited by the continued success of the FMRP partnership, and we look forward to more positive outcomes in the future.

Learn More About IFM’s Partnership With FMRP

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