In Academic Medicine

Functional Medicine in Academic Medicine

One of IFM’s critical strategic goals is to bring the functional medicine model into academic medicine and residency teaching programs. These programs give professionals more effective methodology and tools to prevent and treat complex, chronic disease. A total of 71 academic medicine, nutrition, and residency programs have participated in IFM’s functional medicine education courses, including leading institutions such as Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale. (Click here for Academic Medicine Residency Nutrition Program List) Of these, 18 are introducing functional medicine into their curriculum. (Click here for Curriculum Initiatives)

Inadequate Nutrition Education in Medical School Curriculum

As reported in a 2010 article in Academic Medicine, “Nutrition Education in US Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey,” nutrition education in the medical school curriculum continues to be inadequate. Today, less than a third of schools require a dedicated nutrition course, and none provides even the suggested 25 hours of training.

The Institute for Functional Medicine is contributing to the solution of this problem by collaborating with academic institutions such as the University of Iowa, the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Residency Program, New York Chiropractic College, and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, to bring functional nutrition instruction into their curriculum.

Opportunities for Academic Faculty

To support academic faculty working to spread the functional medicine model into their schools and among their colleagues, IFM offers two opportunities: First, colleagues may attend a monthly academic medicine networking teleconference where support and effective strategies are shared. Second, to help those making presentations to their departments or other interested individuals, IFM allows access to a wide variety of useful materials

Collaboration with Educational Institutions

IFM co-develops pilot curriculum materials for medical education with academic institutions. Two examples:

  • University of Miami – In collaboration with IFM, the University of Miami is offering a Functional Medicine/Clinical Nutrition 100-hour educational project. This pilot program is designed to evaluate and then develop guidelines for clinical nutrition curriculum in various medical settings.
  • Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program - This pilot project will establish a Medical Symptom Reduction Clinic (MSRC) utilizing the functional medicine model and a chronic-care team approach for patient care. In addition, a Transition Center  is being developed, focusing on personalized care for individuals with chronic disease. Click here to watch a video interview with program leaders Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, and Cathy Snapp, PhD. A PDF article about the program is available for download here.