doctor writing on tablet with text overlay - Autoimmune Disease Treatment: How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Practitioner

How to Find a GOOD Functional Medicine Doctor or Practitioner

Frank Disease Management & Treatment, Living Well with Autoimmune Disease Leave a Comment

doctor writing on tablet with text overlay - Autoimmune Disease Treatment: How to Find a Good Functional Medicine PractitionerSo here’s my best infomercial pitch… ehem…

Tired of hearing about your friend’s awesome experience with their new naturopathic doctor when your consultation ends up falling flat?

Or how about, endlessly searching for the right functional doc, but always coming up empty?

Well have I got the product for you!

I don’t actually.  But I did write an article that tells you how to find a GOOD functional medicine doctor.

Below, are 7 ways to jump-start your search for a functional medicine practitioner (FMP for short) and stop all the madness – even if you just started looking!

Don’t know what Functional Medicine is?  Read this:  What is Functional Medicine? & Why You Should Give It a Shot

How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Doctor or Practitioner

Depending on where you live, finding a FMP can be a little tricky.  Absence of insurance coverage, lack of conventional medical acceptance, and societal perception tend to leave them hidden from the general public until desperation strikes.

Once a person with a chronic condition exhausts all their options, finding a FMP becomes mission critical.  So I have mapped out several methods for you to try in hopes that one makes your search that much easier!

Before jumping in, I want to make one thing clear.  Just like every industry and every profession, there are good eggs and bad. Simply because a doctor practices functional medicine, doesn’t mean they are the right practitioner for you – for various reasons (personal taste, or they just plain ain’t good).

In order to keep you from getting lost in a horrible cycle of trial-and-error-FMP-finding, subscribe below to get our EASY checklist for determining if an FMP is good enough for you!

1. The Obvious – Internet Search

This one is so simple, you might have forgotten it!

For the purpose of finding a FMP right around the corner from you, I recommend searching: “Functional Medicine Practitioners near me”.  

You will likely see a list of alternative, holistic, and functional medicine practitioners, along with phone numbers, location, and maybe even some reviews.

You can also check out:

Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

American College for Advancement in Medicine

The Kresser Institute

Institute for Functional Medicine Database

Integrative Medicine for Mental Health

International College of Integrative Medicine

Paleo Physicians Network

Re-Find Health

By checking close by, you gain the benefit of seeing if your area is chock-full, or pretty much devoid of these unique practitioners.  The issue is that sometimes a Google search won’t give an accurate picture of the number of practitioners in your area.  If the pickings seem slim, you should try one of two things:

  • Resort to Options 3, 4 or 6 down later in the post, where I discuss how to work with FMPs that are NOT located in your area, and the best ways to find and work with them from afar.
  • The alternative is to dive into the local pool of practitioners using the tips from Options 2, 5 or 7.  These methods leverage the referrals of those close to you, or that you trust/respect, but keep things closer to home.

The internet is a great place to start.  It is actually how we found our very first functional medicine practitioner, but the rest of our medical team has been found through the methods below.  So don’t give up hope if this isn’t working for you.

Let’s look at another VERY simple, but great way to find a practitioner.

2. The Friend Referral 

Recommendations from friends and family are how many of us make lots of decisions. Why should referring a FMP be any different?

My only caution in using referrals from friends and family is that you make sure you TRUST the person making the recommendation.  Be sure to only ask people that you know are going to lead you in the right direction.

Do you think they are smart?  Well versed in holistic/functional medicine and making good decisions (especially big ones like selecting a practitioner to work with)?  These are some questions that you should ask yourself before asking for someone’s opinion.

If you find yourself using recommendations from people you know (and trust), ask them questions about their experience like costs, time spent, what was discussed, about the practitioner, etc. so that you have an idea of what the practice is like before setting up a consultation.

3. Leveraging Social Media

Social media – how could I not dream up an idea for using our best virtual-friends?  This idea is almost identical to the previous one.

The goal is to leverage the large number of people that you know on Facebook or other social media sites, forums, etc. and your personal account friends, to request recommendations about FMPs that these people have tried.

Facebook groups are a particularly great way to find doctors to work with.  If you aren’t yet familiar with groups and just how beneficial they can be, read our post:  How to Find and Join Autoimmune Disease Support Groups on Facebook

However, if you thought trust was an issue with the “Friend Referrals”, you really need to be critical with online friends.  Once you receive a recommendation, private/direct message the person if they claim to have good referrals.  This allows you to discuss details about the practitioner before making any appointments, therefore saving time and money.

4. The Outside Help – Remote Consultations

Now we are venturing into the future of medicine.  Thanks to the advent and improvements in remote communication systems like Skype or even phone (FaceTime), you can work with a FMP that operates out of Australia if you want! (Or if you live in Australia… The United States!)

Working with a practitioner remotely has some tremendous upside:

  • You’re not location constrained – no expensive trips to offices (if they’re far away), no wasted travel time of any kind
  • They might be cheaper – sometimes practitioners will charge less for remote consultations since they also do not have to travel, or have overhead like an office and staff
  • The pool of practitioners to choose from gets bigger

While there are so many benefits to working with a practitioner remotely, I don’t think it fits everyone.

There are possible downsides to this form of communication.  For one, you never actually meet with the doctor and have a physical exam, unless you are able to do remote AND face-to-face consultations (which is what we do personally to save time and money – location dependent of course).

Other negatives are few, but face-to-face can really help build trust between you and the FMP, which can be pretty critical for an honest relationship.

But, if this is something you are interested AND you are located in the United States, be sure to check out SteadyMD which will pair you with a functional medicine doctor to work with remotely.

5. Referral from Your First Choice’s Office

Say you use any of the methods mentioned so far (or the ones coming up) and you settle on THE BEST functional medicine practitioner in the whole world!  You get super excited, call up the office, the line clicks through and you get the admin on the other line.

Admin: “Hello, Best FMP in the World’s office. How can I help?”

You: “I want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Soandso!”

Admin: “Oh, I’m sorry. Dr. Soandso isn’t taking new patients until next year.”

You have three options:

  1. Pout (or cry, like Anna did one time…)
  2. Ask to be put on a waiting list – only recommended if you are not in a truly chronic state, or totally at a loss for other direction

OR

  1. You can ask for a recommendation from the office!

So choice 3 sounds like this…

You: “Oh, that’s unfortunate, I wasn’t aware.  Well, can you tell me who Dr. Soandso would recommend for my condition?”

Hopefully the office will have a list of practitioners for you to try.  If they do, then you can try one of their recommendations knowing that the practitioner at that office should have done the vetting for you.

Plus, if you are interested in how that FMP practices, hopefully they have found another that operates similarly so that there isn’t a huge loss in quality.

6. See Who the Online Docs Recommend

There are many FMPs on the internet now.  Many of whom have their own blogs and other websites that give meaningful advice on how to start managing chronic disease from a functional medicine perspective.

In addition to helpful research and tips on living with your chronic condition, some have dedicated directories on their website with referrals for practitioners that they recommend!

One important tip if you are interested in this method is to start with someone that works closely with people who have a similar condition.

For instance, two great examples are Dr. Izabella Wentz, and Dr. Terry Wahls.  Dr. Wentz has Hashimoto’s Disease, and Dr. Wahls has MS.  Their websites are primarily geared towards those conditions, and thus they will know and work with other practitioners who should be well versed in those areas.

Options for referrals from these and similar sites are as follows:

7. The Dream Team Approach

Anna and I have been dabbling in the game of regaining our health for a long time.  One of the most impactful things we have done is create a team of practitioners that we work well with, that we trust, and who want to work with us.

We call it, The Dream Team Approach.  This isn’t unique to finding just FMPs, but can work for specialized practitioners like acupuncturists and chiropractors.  The way in which a dream team can help find a FMP, is really just through referrals.

How it works is you find one practitioner that you trust.  After working with him or her for a few months, you begin to ask for other referrals… maybe you’re looking for a chiropractor or acupuncturist to help address an issue that doesn’t seem to be helped with testing, supplements, or diet.

Then, you go to that chiropractor or acupuncturist and ask for THEIR referrals.  And so on.

Soon, you have not only a whole pool of practitioners to choose from, but you are also building your team in the process.  This is exactly how we found the majority of our dream team.

Many offices will already have their own in-house team of practitioners in various specialty areas.  Others have a printed list to hand out to patients.  It’s as simple as asking the question to the practitioner you are working with.

What’s different about this approach to some of the others, is that you already have implicit trust in your dream team personnel, and a mutual understanding of how you want to be treated – medically, emotionally, and spiritually.  So, the recommendations they provide can usually be trusted.

Some Parting Wisdom

Even though FMPs are not as common as the generic family doctor, there are many ways to find them.  Just pick from the many different tactics above.  Keep in mind though, not every practitioner is created equal, so you might want to consider subscribing below (if you haven’t already) to receive our checklist.

The other key factor in finding the best FMP for you, is to make sure that you ASK QUESTIONS!

Do some digging on the person who is supposed to bring you back to health.  Make sure you agree with their approach, their personality (surprisingly important), their cost structure, the tests they use, and the list goes on.

The easiest way to understand these things is to simply ask questions.  Talk to the office staff, the practitioner themselves, and friends/family.

Finally, and I think I have said this a lot (on purpose), is trust the person.  I don’t mean blindly.  When you do your research and check them out, make sure that all your due diligence leads to you trusting them!  It only makes sense to trust them so that you can make the BEST decisions for your health TOGETHER.

I hope you are excited to venture out and find a FMP that will work (best) for you.  Our goal should always be to maximize health, and the approach of functional medicine goes unmatched when dealing with the complexities of chronic disease.

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doctor writing on tablet with text overlay - Autoimmune Disease Treatment: How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Practitioner

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