There are two new buzz words in the world of healthcare packing quite a punch these days–functional medicine.
The Internet defines functional medicine as the “medical practice or treatments that focus on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine.”
Claire Reynolds, FNP-C, has started her own business, Illuminate Wellness. Her definition of functional medicine is easier to understand.
“The heart of the functional medicine approach to health care is that it is personalized, patient-centered, and science-based,” she explained. “By working together, a practitioner and patient uncover and address the root causes of illness. Often, a condition can have several causes, but it is also true that an individual can suffer from several conditions that can all be traced back to the same cause.”
Claire provided an example that helps describe functional medicine when compared with conventional medicine.
“A water spout is spraying water all over the floor. Conventional medicine keeps mopping the floor, while functional medicine providers turn off the water.”
Claire said functional medicine is a great option for people who “are ready and motivated to actively participate in their healing by changing their diet and activity level, addressing stress in their life and potentially taking nutritional supplements or prescriptions, if necessary.”
She continued, “It is also for people who are curious and want to uncover the root cause of their own condition, are dissatisfied with conventional medicine’s approach and are interested in gentler therapies but want their treatment to be evidence-based.”
At Illuminate Wellness, which will be ready to open in December, Claire said she will not be a primary care provider, but rather will provide services through specialty consultation. “I will start with virtual visits and once I complete work on my space at 3 West Main in Cut Bank, I will still continue virtual visits, but will also begin seeing patients in person.”
For those patients she sees, Claire said she will not be “billing insurance companies. The benefit of this is transparent pricing, not being limited by what insurance companies will pay for and I am able to spend the time needed with each patient to provide the quality of care which I can be proud of,” she added. “I will have the ability to print a superbill if anyone would like to submit it to their own insurance company themselves.”
To get her business started, Claire is offering a free 15-minute phone conversation, giving potential patients a chance to decide if functional medicine is for them and is “a good fit for their health goals,” she said. “They will have a chance to share what they hope to achieve and I can give them an idea of what the work-up and treatment may entail. At that point they can decide if they would like to schedule an initial visit.”
If the patient chooses to schedule an initial visit, Claire said those first visits will take one and a half to two hours. “We will go over the individual’s history in detail, current symptoms, previous work-ups and current lifestyle. Then we will establish a plan that is feasible for them. Depending on the person, I may recommend completing testing right away, while others may want to make some changes first to see if they get the results they want without spending money on labs. A lot of people will feel remarkably better by making changes in their diet and lifestyle and they may not require labs at all.”
Claire has enrolled in the Institute for Functional Medicine Certification Program, and expects completion of her studies and her training by early 2021, with final testing to take place later that year.
Claire has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2014, working at Glacier Community Health Center. Before receiving her FNP degree, she was a Registered Nurse.
Not long ago, she heard a podcast where the Functional Medicine Practitioner was speaking about the benefits of functional medicine. “I was so inspired by the model of care of which he spoke, that I looked it up and within a week or two, applied for the certification program,” she said. “It is what I have wanted for years but didn’t have a name for it, so it felt like a relief to finally find out what it is called and know I can learn more about it.”
She continued, “When I became pregnant, I started to realize that working full-time in primary care didn’t mesh with my goals for family life. As I networked with more Functional Medicine Practitioners, I realized it would be feasible to open my own micro-practice and work part-time. This allows me to provide the kind of care I really believe in and have time with my son while he is little. I could not be more excited to get going!”
Even though the business is just getting started, Claire already has ideas to move it forward into the future. She is looking at providing what she calls “coaching packages, for those who would like more frequent check-ins to keep them on track.” And when the pandemic threats subside, she hopes to offer cooking demonstrations for people to learn to cook healthy meals for not just themselves, but their families as well.
Functional Medicine is a new wave in healthcare and good one too and Claire Reynolds, FNP-C, has brought it to Cut Bank and the surrounding area.