Why We Added Functional Medicine to RWC Services
As a nurse practitioner at Rhett Women’s Center, we make every effort to make the patient the center of our focus. Historically, this is our motivation each time a new service is added. For example, our providers realized that gynecology services needed to be expanded for those patients experiencing hormonal imbalances and the decline associated with menopause. To meet the need and give our patients the opportunity to feel better and reduce their risk for chronic disease, we began optimizing hormones with bioidentical hormone replacement therapies. For many patients our customized program for sex and thyroid hormone treatment has been life changing. For other patients, this process helped us realize that some patients need a ‘deeper dive’.
Functional Medicine provides an evidence based opportunity and platform to address the whole patient, not just specific symptoms. In this model of medicine we spend intensive time with our patients to understand their histories and their stories. We employ lifestyle modifications including nutrition and diet, exercise and movement, stress management, sleep and relaxation, and relationships. We ask “deep dive” questions like, “Why is illness occurring?” and “What is causing this patient to feel a particular way?”. Enter the Functional Medicine model of care. It is both a natural and logical next step to our expanded services.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine asks how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual. Working through the functional medicine model of care involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease.
Hallmarks of a Functional Medicine* approach include:
Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease.
An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional Medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
Integrating best medical practices. Functional Medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.
Functional Medicine is an exciting next step for the entire Rhett Women’s Center team. I am excited to partner with Erin Copenhaver, PA-C to care for patients interesting in participating in the Functional Medicine model. By looking for interactions with participating Functional Medicine patient’s genes, environment, and lifestyle (known as epigenetics), we strive to have a profound impact on how patients look, live, and feel as well as the ability to restore health. By combining our knowledge of hormonal balance and the functional medicine model of care, we will be able to walk alongside our patients as they work to achieve their own unique expression of health and vitality.
*By Gene Blake, NP, Rhett Women’s Center
*Information courtesy of © 2014 The Institute for Functional Medicine