How to Find a Functional Medical Doctor
If you are looking for a functional medical doctor in your area, you may be wondering about the best place to start.
Choosing the right functional medicine doctor for your specific needs is important since the efficacy of your care has as much to do with the doctor’s experience as it does your relationship with them.
You will want to find a functional medicine doctor who not only specializes in the type of care you’re looking for but also with whom you can feel comfortable and unjudged.
What is a Functional Medical Doctor?
A functional medical doctor takes a biomolecular approach to health by trying to identify the pathways that are being affected by the body and how they connect to symptoms and conditions. Functional medicine physicians also account for lifestyle and dietary factors along with environmental influences.
A functional medicine doctor has typically undergone training through organizations like IFM (Institute of Functional Medicine) and has a traditional medical education base.
Tips for Finding a Functional Medical Doctor
Finding a functional medical doctor can sometimes be daunting, especially if you’re entering the process after having successive failed relationships with previous doctors. However, finding the right functional medical doctor can transform your health.
Here are some tips for helping you find the right functional medical doctor for you:
Ask for Referrals
Asking for referrals is one of the easiest ways to find a functional medical doctor near you. If you have friends, relatives, or alternative care providers who choose functional medicine in their health journey, ask them for referrals.
If possible, ask for referrals from people who have had similar experiences to your own. If you are currently suffering from a chronic condition, do you know someone who may have healed a similar condition through functional medicine?
If you’re unable to find anyone who has a referral or if you are hesitant to put yourself out there and ask for recommendations, you can find online referrals as well. Look for online reviews, awards, podcasts, or blogs recommending functional medical doctors in your area.
After you’ve narrowed down a list of recommendations, read the online reviews of your list of prospective functional medical doctors. While it’s important to remember that each person’s experience will be different and that a functional health journey is a personal one that relies on connection and trust, reviews can give you a good idea for whether the doctor has the qualities you’re looking for.
In addition to reviews, it is also helpful to make sure the functional medical doctor you choose has significant experience in your specific needs. If you have a chronic condition such as an autoimmune disorder, allergies, or chronic pain, you will want to make sure your functional medical doctor is an expert in those areas. You can usually find this information on the health care facility’s website or associated online directories or listings.
Set up a Consultation
After you’ve narrowed down your list of potential functional medical doctors, set up a consultation. This will be used not necessarily as a primary health assessment, but as an opportunity to speak with the doctor and make sure you’re comfortable with how they work with their patients.
Come prepared to ask questions about how they partner with their clients to achieve optimal health, what to expect during appointments, what their network of care providers look like—such as dieticians, massage therapists, mental health specialists, etc.,—how they diagnose and treat conditions, and so on. Look for answers that fit your health goals and be aware of whether you feel comfortable in conversation with the doctor.
Don’t be Afraid to Shop Around
If you walk away from an initial consultation feeling uneasy or uncomfortable, listen to your gut. Remember, functional medicine requires a trusting partnership between the patient and doctor to work together and achieve optimal health. If you don’t feel comfortable or at ease communicating with the doctor, it likely won’t be as beneficial of a relationship as it otherwise could be. Continue to shop around and meet with functional medical doctors until you find one that feels like the right fit.
What to Look for in a Functional Medical Doctor
When you’re looking for a functional medical doctor, there are several qualities you should look for:
Easy to Talk To
It’s important to find a functional medical doctor you feel comfortable sharing with. Functional medicine requires a partnership between the patient and doctor to create and implement an effective health plan. In order to achieve this, you should feel comfortable asking questions, bringing up concerns, and sharing details with your functional medical doctor.
Longer Appointment Length
Appointments with a functional medical doctor are typically longer than appointments with traditional Western medicine doctors as they rely on relationships and understanding to truly get to the underlying causes of a condition. If a doctor calls themselves a functional medical doctor but only speaks with a patient for 5 or 10 minutes before jumping to a diagnosis, prescription, or treatment, then consider looking for a different doctor who spends more time with their patients.
Reasonable Diagnostic Practices
Because a functional medical doctor takes the time to listen and understand you, your lifestyle, and factors that may be impacting your health, they should be able to balance the use of costly and time-consuming tests to diagnose certain conditions. If you begin to feel like you are having to undergo excessive or extraneous tests, talk to your doctor or consider looking for a different provider.
Doesn’t Focus Only on Symptoms
Most importantly of all, your functional medical doctor should be focusing on more than just symptoms. If your doctor seems hyper-focused on suppressing symptoms and doesn’t seem to be spending enough time identifying the root cause of the symptoms, it may be an indicator that the relationship is not the right fit.
Speak with a Functional Medical Doctor
Would you like to set up an appointment with a functional medical doctor at CentreSprings MD? We are happy to help. Click the button below to set up a consultation or to speak with a scheduler.