As the field of Integrative, Functional and Lifestyle Medicine continues to gain prevalence in today’s healthcare landscape, I regularly receive inquiries from practitioners who are interested in pursuing a career in the field. After working in this realm for quite some time, I can tell you that a career path in this field is definitely worth your consideration.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, the Integrative and Functional Medicine field has become increasingly popular, not only for patients but for healthcare practitioners as well. This is due to a number of reasons – from conventional medicine burnout to the increasingly competitive compensation, to an overall more rewarding and transformative work experience for practitioners because this field of medicine actually gets patients better. The increasing number of providers and patients that are choosing the patient-centered care of Integrative and Functional Medicine has resulted in rapidly expanding opportunities within the field.
As Thomas Edison once said, “ The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in medicine that focuses on the cause and prevention of disease, here are a few suggestions for getting started:
1. Acquire the Right Education
The first step when setting off on your career journey in this field of Medicine is finding the proper education. When choosing your training program, make sure that you choose a program that suits your needs and resonates with you. To help you with your search for organizations that provide training in this field, you can check out my comprehensive list here. These organizations provide quality education in patient-centered care that empowers individuals to achieve optimal health.
Some of the organizations listed even offer free e-courses or other free resources, which can be a great way to determine if a program is the right fit for you. Here are a few:
Institute for Functional Medicine:
Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine:
Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine:
National Center for Integrative Primary Healthcare
American College of Lifestyle Medicine
2. Use Your Knowledge Immediately
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to wait to complete an education program in Integrative and Functional Medicine to start bringing the value of this movement to your patients. I’ve spoken to many candidates who were able to start using their training immediately, even in a conventional setting. Once empowered with life-changing information about Functional Medicine, it’s possible to play a significant role in transforming health – right in your own back yard. I’ve seen primary care providers and specialists bring the benefits of Functional Medicine to conventional medicine in brilliant ways. You can read about some of those examples here.
I’ve also noticed that a large majority of the clients I recruit for are open to candidates who have just started training in the field, as long as the passion and dedication are there. Especially in a field that is still gaining traction, the motto is often “hire character and train skill.” They’re aware that skills and knowledge can be taught, whereas initiative, character, personality, and emotional intelligence cannot.
3. Find a Tribe
While you are getting an education and practicing within the field of Integrative and Functional Medicine, it is imperative that you find a tribe. While the recognition and acceptance of this field within the traditional medical community as a whole is growing, there still tends to be a great deal of skepticism around Functional Medicine. This can lead to a feeling of isolation in a conventional healthcare setting. To combat this, it is important that we strengthen ourselves as a community and come together in order to bring power to our movement. Success within the Integrative and Functional Medicine field requires the interconnectedness of a tribe to fully grow and prosper. Connecting yourself with others in the Integrative and Functional Medicine realm will not only help bring power to the movement, but it will also help you grow your skills as a practitioner and assist you in your career. You can do this via social media, conferences, and networking events like Functional Forum Meetups. For more information on finding your tribe, click here.
4. Find a Job
It’s a great time to get started in this field! I started Integrated Connections 10 years ago, and each year there is an increasing number of opportunities on our career platform. The number of positions in smaller practices continues to grow, as do opportunities with large health systems. You can find some of these amazing opportunities on our job board at https://integratedconnects.com.
This movement has already helped so many individuals and will help so many more. I’m proud to call myself a part of it and can’t wait to see it continue to flourish. The time for Functional and Integrative Medicine is now, and we would love to have you join us! Are you up for the task?
Integrated Connections is the leading-edge healthcare staffing firm that specializes exclusively in Integrative and Functional Medicine career placements. We are the official “connector” in the field and actively seek to promote all the available opportunities. Our goal is to connect you to the best opportunity for your skills and aspirations. Learn more at www.integratedconnects.com.