Published: April 9, 2021
When talking to prospective students interested in becoming Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches, our Admissions Team is often asked, “What is Functional Medicine vs. Integrative Medicine?” Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine are not meant to replace conventional healthcare, but rather to take a more holistic view that is inclusive of conventional healthcare as well as other approaches. While they may seem similar in the sense that they holistically treat the individual rather than the disease, their approaches are actually very different.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine employs a systems-oriented medical approach that works to identify and understand the underlying or root causes of a disease. It is a personalized, patient-centered, science-based approach to healthcare that looks beyond symptom resolution to identify why illness occurs, and address those root causes to restore health.
Functional Medicine empowers patients and practitioners to work together through a detailed understanding of genetics, biochemicals, and lifestyle factors to resolve the underlying root cause of disease and promote optimal wellness through diet, lifestyle and behavioral change.
What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative Medicine is a holistic medical discipline which takes into account the lifestyle habits of a patient. The physician works to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. The mind, body, and soul of a patient are taken into consideration to promote healing and well-being.
Integrative Medicine uses a combination of modern healthcare practices to diagnose and treat a patient. Treatments may include such modalities as yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, exercise, massage, or reflexology. This practice also focuses on the nutritional and exercise habits of the patient. Integrative Medicine physicians believe poor lifestyle choices are the root cause of many modern chronic diseases.
When choosing a health coaching program, how are they different?
Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine health coaches take a holistic approach to personal health and wellness. They both focus on the individual rather than the disease, and they both take into account their patient’s lifestyle habits when looking behind the symptoms.
Functional Medicine health coaching focuses on four main components: Functional Medicine, Functional Nutrition, Positive Psychology, and Mind-Body Medicine. Functional Medicine health coaches will dive into each component while staying within their scope of practice. When becoming a Functional Medicine health coach, you learn the Functional Medicine “language” and are able to work in a collaborative care team. You will use the same Functional Medicine toolkit from The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), who sets the gold standard for education, training, and clinical practice in the field of Functional Medicine globally.
In Integrative Medicine, this language differs according to the physicians, their experience, and their knowledge. Integrative Medicine health coaching focuses on three main components: science of behavior change, personal health planning, and mindful awareness. They can work in modalities such as homeopathy, music therapy, aroma therapy, nutrition, acupuncture, and exercise health.
FMCA is not a space where we see a different philosophy between Functional Medicine or Integrative Medicine—we embrace all science-based approaches to helping people. Health coaches can help bridge the gap in traditional healthcare, and health coaches are also in demand. LinkedIn identified the fastest-growing job areas over the past year, ranking them based on a combination of growth in demand and number of jobs available. Health coaching is a career on the rise, with hiring growing by 53% since 2019, according to LinkedIn. Healthcare supporting staff titles, which includes health coaches, pharmacy technicians, and intake specialists, ranked 3rd overall.
Are you interested in joining an in-demand career and making a difference as a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach? Download our free Info Packet.