The History of Functional Medicine
Functional and Integrative medicine started making its way on the scene in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. During that era, progressive healers started using “natural medicine” to get to the root of disease and treat the whole person. By the 1980s, medical providers were using labs to test amino acid levels, fatty acids, toxic metals, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, hormones, and so on. They were treating chronic ailments with nutrition, supplements, and exercise and getting outstanding results. (1)
In 1990 Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., coined the term Functional Medicine and started conducting regular seminars throughout the United States, sharing his knowledge on various subjects such as gastrointestinal health, immune health, hormone balance, and detoxification. He, along with his wife Susan, founded the first Functional Medicine Institute in 1991. (2)
Functional Medicine Training
Now is an exciting time for Functional Medicine Practitioners; the trend has been growing and gaining attention for the past 50 years. What was once considered “alternative medicine” is now becoming mainstream medicine as more and more patients seek answers to their chronic health conditions. With this increase in demand for Functional Medicine practitioners, the trainings and courses are popping up everywhere. Eligible medical professionals can take continuing education courses, join live seminars, or become certified in Functional Medicine. If you are interested in any of the above options, this article will guide you through some of the most popular choices out there.
To be eligible for certification as a functional medicine practitioner, you must have a master’s degree in a health-related field with one of the following credentials: Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Dentist, Nurse Practitioner (NP), Acupuncturist (LAc), Pharmacist, mental health professionals, or an equivalent degree from countries outside of the US. (3)
Physician Assistant (PA), Registered Nurse (RN), Registered Dietitian (RD), Occupational Therapist (OT), and Physical Therapist (PT) must hold at least a bachelor’s level degree in their field as long as their education was completed prior to the entry-level education change. (4)
Requirements are constantly changing to keep up with the times. If you have a specific question about eligibility, it is recommended you reach out to the program you are interested in.
The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)
In 1991, Dr. Jeffrey and Susan Bland founded The Institute for Functional Medicine with the mission to educate and provide clinical support for the implementation of Functional Medicine across disciplines within the healthcare sector. (2)
IFM is best known for being one of the first FM institutes as well as its partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and some of its medical “celebrity” educators, including Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Terry Wahls.
The Institute for Funtional Medicine holds a hybrid of classes including live streaming, online, and in-person seminars. The typical length of time to complete the IFM certification is 2 – 2.5 years. To maintain certification, you must pass a written examination every tenth year and provide a current healthcare practitioner license.
The program costs between $12,000-$16,000 (includes the price of all programs, application fee, exam fee, and case report fee). This cost does not include the maintenance and renewal of IFM Certification (every ten years).(5)
- Gut Dysfunction & Chronic Conditions
- Environmental Health (formerly Detox)
- Bioenergetics (formerly Energy)
The Kalish Institute has helped over 1,000 practitioners worldwide since 2006. You have the option to choose between a six- or twelve-month mentorship with Dr. Kalish, and you will receive a Kalish Method Mentorship™ certification once completed. The classes are all online and a combination of live classes and recorded webinars.
The Kalish Method focuses on The Three-Body Systems™. It uses three types of lab tests, a very specific series of natural supplements, patient communication techniques, and practice management tools, to enable practitioners to manage common chronic health conditions in their patients. (6)
If paid upfront, the one-year program is $13,490, or the six-month program is $8,495. You may also make monthly payments for an additional cost.
- Practice Plan
Functional Medicine University (FMU)
Functional Medicine University is an entirely online functional medicine training program that Dr. Ron Grisanti founded in 2006.
FMU offers a Functional Medicine education program that you can complete at your own pace, but most students complete the training in 6-7 months, with about 10 hours a week of study. FMU’s primary instructor is Dr. Ron Grisanti, but he also has a panel of highly respected medical experts that guest teach many of the classes. At the end of your training, you will receive a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioners (CFMP®) Certification.
FMU is also an approved Continuing Education Provider throughout the US for a wide range of health care entities including MDs, DCs, DOs, NDs, Acupuncturists, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Dietitians, Pharmacists, and Dentists. (7)
The total cost of the program is $2,695, payable in six or twelve months—quite a substantial savings in comparison to other programs on this list. A unique feature that FMU offers is access to all course materials for up to 30 days once enrolled. If you discover Functional Medicine University is not right for you within those 30 days, you can cancel your registration get a full refund.
- Introduction to Functional Medicine
- GI System
- Immune System
- Oxidative Stress
- Detoxification of the Liver
- Neuroendocrine Regulation
- Psychological, Emotional, and Spiritual Balance
- Structural Integrity
- Case Reviews
After completing your CFMP®, you can use your earned 200 hours of Functional Medicine Training towards the 300 hours needed for the American Clinical Board of Nutrition DACBN board examination. (8)
Rupa Health’s Free Functional Medicine Live Courses
Rupa Health has recently launched its Free Live Courses platform to give you, the practitioner, the opportunity to pick and choose what you want to learn about. Rupa’s Courses offer various subjects from some of the top healthcare experts in the functional medicine field. You can chose to learn more about the subjects you specialize in or take a deep dive into something new. Practitioners can register for the live classes or watch them anytime after they have aired from our pre-recorded class catalog.
It's Free! Our goal at Rupa Health is to make functional medicine labs and education easily accessible to all healthcare practitioners. Everything we do, we do it with you in mind.
Everything from business practices to chronic diseases and the specialty lab testing commonly used to diagnose these diseases.
Want to learn more about our live classes? You can register your email here to be notified as they come up.
Have a question about our classes or any of our functional medicine labs? Reach out! We are here for you!