Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.” ― Samuel Johnson, The Rambler
Let’s face it. Your health is a precious commodity and should never be taken for granted. You should protect your health and do everything in your power to live as healthy as possible to help ensure a long and vibrant life. “Preventive medicine”, “Lifestyle medicine”, and “Anti-aging medicine” are all very popular terms currently, and there are many “clinics” opening up nation-wide that cater to patients’ desire to lose weight, balance hormones, regain energy, reduce stress, and fight the natural forces of aging. While some of these clinics may be legitimate, many others are merely a scam intended to try to financially capitalize on patients’ naivety. I have some heart-felt advice – buyers beware.
Unfortunately, individuals who do not have the training or credentials to deliver the level of care that they advertise staff these clinics. Just having “M.D.” behind one’s name does not guarantee that that individual has training in wellness medicine, otherwise known as Integrative or Functional Medicine. Many times, these M.D.’s are physicians that work in other specialties and use their name and credentials as a formality since these stand-alone clinics require “medical directors” to comply with medical licensing issues. Quite often, these physicians are not actively practicing at these clinics at all. They are usually staffed by nurse practitioners that may or may not have any advanced training in Integrative or Functional Medicine.
Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.
Neither Integrative nor Functional Medicine is traditionally taught in conventional medical school curricula. They are areas of medicine that require additional postgraduate study and training, most comprehensively delivered in Fellowship models. The Couri Center for Gynecology and Integrative Health provides both Integrative and Functional Medicine alongside traditional Western medicine to ensure that our patients receive the absolute best, individualized care that is targeted, personalized and effective. The road to providing this level of care was not easy. It required thousands of hours of training spent in lectures, conferences, and online learning. Time spent with family and friends was sacrificed month after month in order to fulfill the requirements of the Fellowship curricula.
I graduated residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2001, and I have spent the last fourteen years in private practice. When I realized that I wanted to add Integrative Medicine concepts to my practice, I sought out the world renowned Dr. Andrew Weil. In 2010, I began my training in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. This Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is a 1,000-hour, two-year distance-learning program. Created by Andrew Weil, MD in 2000, the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine has achieved international recognition as the leading integrative medical education program in the world. Shortly thereafter in 2013, I completed a two-year Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine through the University of South Florida and the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. All combined, this additional training cost me over one-hundred-thousand dollars. However, the knowledge that I gained was priceless. I was honored to have the opportunity to learn what is commonly regarded as the “future of medicine”. In my mind, my patients deserve the very best, and anyone that knows me, knows that I never compromise quality of care.
Nothing makes me more upset than unqualified practitioners who have a “lifelong interest in health and fitness” but no formal medical training whatsoever managing clinics that lure patients in with clever marketing schemes promising to “add years to life”. I firmly believe in the power of Integrative Medicine, but quite frankly, Integrative Medicine is not simply the act of replacing a prescription medication with a supplement or recommending the HCG diet for weight loss. Integrative medicine involves the healing traditions of ancient cultures and cannot be delivered by using “cookie-cutter” treatment algorithms to uniformly treat the masses.
The proudest day of my medical career has and likely will always be when I graduated medical school and stood before God and my family to recite the Hippocratic oath. I vowed to “first do no harm”. By nature, I am very protective. I am a protector of my family and my patients. I want nothing more than to see my patients empowered with the tools to master disease and flourish in health. Those tools come from a toolbox that combines the best of Western medicine with evidence-based healing paradigms of ancient traditions. Just make sure that the tools recommended to you come from those of a Master Craftsman and not from a cheap imitation. My good friend and mentor Dr. Tieraona Low Dog stated it best by saying, “We should all be thankful for
the amazing gifts of modern medicine. I am. That’s why I wanted to become a physician, so that I could share those gifts. There are times we need the heavy hand of chemotherapy, surgery and/or drugs. I also know in the deepest core of my being that the human body and spirit are strong, stronger than we can even imagine. Every scar, seen and unseen, reminds us that we are capable of healing.”
To Your Health, Dr. Couri