Find out more about topics related to IFM's 5-day foundational course, Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice:

Henri Roca, MD, on Mentoring AFMCP Attendees

We learn better together. That is the message Henri Roca, MD, describes in this video when discussing mentoring at AFMCP. Within a mentorship relationship, clinicians become committed students of Functional Medicine and therefore better practitioners to their patients.

Henri Roca, MD, Talks About Mentoring at AFMCP

What Can Clinicians Expect to Change After Attending AFMCP?

Robert Rountree, MD, describes his perspective on the top takeaways for clinicians who attend Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP). From techniques to increase patient compliance to tools for assessing and treating patients, clinicians walk away from IFM’s foundational course ready to make changes in practice.

Dr. Rountree on Top Takeaways from AFMCP

Preventing Chronic Disease Before It Happens


Imagine a patient, Michael, walking into your office with a chief complaint of fatigue and an upset stomach. You note that his waist circumference is high, like his blood pressure and blood sugar, he rarely exercises, drinks often, and eats most meals in restaurants. He wants to get better but struggles to keep his job and stay engaged with his children, so the hard work of lifestyle change seems overwhelming.

How do we help patients like Michael who have the stage set for a future of chronic illness?

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For Patients, Knowing Their Risk Is Not Enough


Personalized medicine has the potential to dramatically improve health care. Helping patients understand how their unique genetic makeup and environment interact can help them get on the path to health. But is simply knowing that one has an increased disease risk enough to change behavior? Recent research suggests that it is not.

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The Increased Challenges of Patients With Multiple Diagnoses

As a clinician, you likely see patients who have multiple chronic conditions every day. Approximately one in four adults has more than one chronic condition.1 Although this is especially likely in the elderly (85+ years),2 it is also true across all age brackets.1 Such comorbidity has been increasing over time: between 2003-2009, incidence of comorbid chronic conditions rose 40% for patients in Ontario, Canada—from over 17% to over 24% of patients.3 These individuals face a range of challenges, including difficulty finding and keeping a job,4 increased risk of major health decline,5 and increased mortality.5

Patients with multiple chronic issues can be difficult to treat, in part because chronic conditions often have a more than additive effect on symptoms: patients tend to experience more disability with two chronic conditions than either individual condition alone would suggest.6 In addition, treating multiple chronic conditions may require a very different approach than treating each individual condition.6,7

Marcelle Pick, NP, on how the framework of Functional Medicine helps to treat patients with multiple comorbidities:

Marcelle Pick, NP, Discusses Helping Complicated Patients with Functional Medicine

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Using the Timeline as a Diagnostic Tool

Click here to download the
Functional Medicine Timeline
Years ago, clinicians used to have time to sit with each of their patients and take detailed histories. But times have changed. Now much of the history-taking is done via intake paperwork filled out ahead of time, followed by a few minutes of face-to-face review. Yet the patient history is still vital to uncovering the cause of a patient's dysfunction. Indeed, as the famous physician Sir William Osler said, "If you listen to your patient, they will tell you their diagnosis."

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Worrying Trends Suggest Increasing Morbidity

First, the good news: a recent longitudinal study found that in the US, longevity continues to increase.1 Unfortunately, the study also found that the proportion of a person’s life in which they could expect to live disability-free is decreasing—and that the young will have more years with disability than individuals over 65.1 Decreasing quality of life may continue to be all-too-common as the younger generation matures. As clinicians, we can help by promoting health and wellness for our patients, and doing it early and often.

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Lifelong Influences on Health: Childhood Antibiotics and Adult Health


Antibiotics have an important role in medicine, but as you may already know, the CDC states that they are frequently overused: up to 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are not optimal or effective.1 Systemic effects are particularly dramatic when antibiotics are given to infants, and research suggests that the effects of antibiotics on the pediatric microbiome can persist into adulthood.2 Recent research shows that frequent antibiotic use in childhood may increase the likelihood of a variety of conditions, such as allergies,3 asthma,4,5 atopic disorders, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and infections.2 It also appears that some of the effects of antibiotic exposure depend on genetic susceptibility.6

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Functional Medicine Through Active Learning


For two decades, the Institute for Functional Medicine has offered its foundational 5-day program, Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP). This groundbreaking program integrates science, research, and clinical insights to help treat and prevent chronic disease.

IFM continues to lead the way in transforming continuing medical education. Our clinical content has always been innovative, and our educational presentation format is state-of-the-art. Instead of hours of long lectures, at AFMCP you are engaged in an active learning experience. IFM leads the way in best practices for continuing medical education:

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Why Start with the Gut?

Since approximately half of Americans have at least one chronic condition,1 understanding the major underlying causes of those conditions has become increasingly important. For many patients, the gastrointestinal tract plays a key role in modulating immune function and systemic wellness—with symptoms as diverse as joint pain, migraines, fatigue, and acne.

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Moving Beyond Standardized Diets


Despite recent advances in nutrigenomics, the idea that a given food has the same effect on all individuals is still widespread. A recent study found that after ingesting identical foods, blood glucose levels could vary by up to 20% in the same individual and up to 25% across individuals.1 These results suggest that even within an individual, metabolism depends on many contextual factors.

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Improving the Odds: Lifestyle Changes for Hypertension

Every year, 38.9 million physician visits involve patients with essential hypertension as the primary diagnosis.1 This makes it the second leading cause of physician office visits (only routine infant/child check-ups are more common).1 Hypertension, as well as many other cardiometabolic conditions, tends to respond well to lifestyle changes, but how do we motivate patients to adopt lifestyle changes that are realistic, achievable, and truly effective?

For some practitioners, the challenge of lack of compliance for lifestyle changes can lead to feeling disillusioned and resigned, reluctant to discuss lifestyle changes that are still considered essential.2 Lifestyle change is hard, for hypertension as well as many other chronic conditions, but with the right tools, we can help our patients get it right.

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Tools to Engage Patients and Improve Diagnostics

Research demonstrates that many patients are eager to adopt information-sharing practices, and that increased patient engagement may lead to better outcomes. For example, the growing practice of sharing clinical encounter notes with patients may support ongoing health promotion efforts.1 A recent BMJ study found that clinicians who shared clinical notes with patients reported increased understanding of the diagnosis and treatment process among their patients.2 Patients reported increased adherence to treatment recommendations and feelings of partnership in the clinical encounter. After two years, all of the patients and clinicians involved in the study reported that they wanted to continue with the practice.2

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Creating Strong Patient Relationships

Many experienced clinicians have noted the relationship between the length of time they have known a patient and that patient’s willingness to trust them and comply with treatment plans. But it doesn’t necessarily have to take years for patients to develop this trusting relationship with their clinician. There is a way to shorten the cycle and increase patient engagement and empowerment, leading to increased patient compliance among all your patients.

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Go Beyond Theory to Improve Patient Outcomes

The best learning experiences involve a dynamic interplay between theory and application. At IFM’s Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP), attendees participate in their own learning and thereby acquire skills to apply immediately in the clinic.

Expert speakers lecture on the biochemical foundations of disease and wellness, while facilitated small group sessions and case studies help turn theory into practice. Experienced Functional Medicine practitioners guide clinicians in using these newly learned concepts for better patient outcomes.

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Lifestyle, Diet, and Helping Patients with Mental and Physical Illnesses

As the incidence of chronic conditions continues to rise, the proportion of Americans with mental health conditions has followed. Anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviors, eating disorders, and other conditions often occur in concert with health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular concerns. In fact, patients with mental illnesses may be more likely to come to the doctor's office with minor illnesses than patients without mental health diagnoses.1 Nutritional changes can address both physical concerns and mental health issues.

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Learn More About AFMCP