Integrative Medicine is the Forefront of Healthcare’s Future
After finding myself challenged in asking friends and colleagues; “But why don’t we eat more at home?” or “Why don’t we teach food as medicine?”, and constantly wanting to heal with food, I embarked on a journey that would drastically change my life forever. My closest friend and older sister, a physician, asked me to visit a medical practice with her in Forney, Texas. Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, there was never a shy bone in my body or an aversion to do things differently so we found ourselves hopping on a flight to Texas to visit a progressive medical practice. This practice had pushed the envelope of the conventional medicine model to which we all have sadly become accustomed. Little did I know, that this trip last year, the week before Thanksgiving 2013, would mark the beginning of a journey that would forever change my life, personally and professionally, by allowing my patients and I, to feel empowered to take back our health through therapeutic lifestyle changes!
By January 2014, I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to begin my studies as a certified health coach. My goal was to help my older sister in her practice as a practitioner along with leveraging years of business management expertise as her office manager later that year. I began my curriculum hoping that I could share my experience and years of healthy living within a demographic struggling with obesity. At the time, my day position was working as a regional vice president with the Schumacher Group (a privately held staffing company that predominately specialized in staffing emergency department and hospital medicine programs at contracted hospitals), traveling amidst nine states around the country at least 95% of the time. I felt a calling to help my sister in changing the way traditional family medicine is practiced, meaning, moving towards resolving patient problems versus providing a prescription for the symptoms. I wanted to offer more to those who were sick and simply uneducated about how to get well or what may have caused them to be so ill. This reality became all too familiar when faced with the difficulty of maintaining healthy habits while traveling and not having a means to make your own foods and maintain any state of healthy living. I was shocked at how limited my choices became. IIN taught me that I was far from alone and that those individuals who shared my thoughts had a very vital role to fill in today’s healthcare industry. I was inspired by the fact that we as individuals and as patients have a choice to get well and preserve our health by choosing nutrient dense foods and a clean way of living; we shouldn’t have to settle on the traditional family medicine 15 minute consult or an emergency room visit and a magic pill.
In August 2014, my sister and I opened our own integrative medical practice in Covington, Louisiana where I, as a certified health coach, support her as my physician and execute her prescriptive plans. Our goal is to provide compassionate care sought by patients without the default use of prescriptions. We are now educating people, one patient at a time, on the significance of how diet and lifestyle modifications can help them achieve the true health and wellness and may reduce the need for prescription drugs by reversing chronic illnesses and diseases. Our practice was built on the foundations of functional medicine inspired by the lives of Jeffrey Bland, PhD and Mark Hyman, MD. They seek to pinpoint and prevent the cause of illness, rather than treat symptoms. I have gained practical experience with our patients and have felt encouraged as a new health coach but hope to further my knowledge through the MUIH Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health next year. After which I want to proceed with attending the clinical nutrition doctoral program offered there as this trajectory best suits my long term professional goals.
I believe that it is our responsibility to educate one another about human clinical nutrition and to preserve our health in the future through community nutrition education. The staggering rise of childhood obesity, chronic disease, and illness coupled with the costs of maintaining these illnesses by only managing its symptoms simply is not sustainable. We must change the paradigm to resolving the root cause of the illnesses. Rather than feel defeated by this, I want to take part in empowering people to take back their health and recognize that integrative medicine is the answer. Make the choice to get well through lifestyle changes and reverse chronic illnesses by getting to the root causes. It is my goal and my passion to help guide my patients by means of nutritional education and encourage them along their individual journeys of personal transformation, as I have embarked on mine this past year.