Your First Visit With A Functional Medicine Practitioner

Your First Appointment With A Functional Medicine Practitioner

So you have found a functional medicine doctor in your area, and are ready for your first appointment. What should you expect?

Expect to do a lot of talking. Your doctor will listen. Especially[1]:

  • Share your medical, personal and family history.
  • Your symptoms.
  • Previous experience you may have had with other healthcare providers.

In addition, depending on the condition, you should also expect a physical examination along with laboratory testing when applicable.

Your First Appointment Time

Your first visit with a functional medicine practitioner may take much more time compared to a conventional health provider visit. While the time it takes depends on the condition, you should expect your visit to take 1-2 hours.

Since the main goal of functional medicine is to find and treat the cause of disease, spending that much time is essential in order to capture all the needed details that can help to fully uncover the root cause. In addition, the treatment may be tailored to each patient. This also requires more time compared to a standard one-fit-all treatment.

Online/Phone or Doctor’s Office Visit?

Many functional medicine physicians also offer the option of a “virtual meeting” via the phone, skype, etc. Meeting your doctor without having to drive all the way to its office is obviously very convenient and can actually be helpful, especially in the following cases:

  1. Initial consultation:
    You have never met your doctor, and want to find out if the doctor’s experience and approach may be a good fit for you.
  2. Touch base:
    You have already had your initial visit and want to touch base (e.g. discuss test results, questions about diet or other treatment options).

Some conditions, however, may require physical examination. During the physical examination, your doctor may find physical signs you may not be aware of. These signs may be critical in order to correctly diagnose the root cause of your issues.

Questions To Ask Your Functional Medicine Practitioner

According to the institute of functional medicine (IFM), here are some questions to ask a functional medicine physician[1]:

  • How would you describe your practice?
  • Do you work with other clinicians? (e.g. Nutrition Professionals, Health Coach).
  • Do you have information you could send me about your practice?
  • Do you have experience treating my conditions(s)?
  • Please describe your Functional Medicine training.
  • Do you take insurance or are you a cash practice?
  • What are the main therapies that you use? (e.g. dietary, chiropractic adjustments, supplements, prescription medications)?
    Are they typically covered by insurance?
  • Do you use laboratory tests (urine, stool, saliva, and/or blood)? What other kinds of assessments do you use?
    Are they typically covered by insurance?
  • What is the cost of an office visit?
  • How much time should I budget for my first appointment?
  • What should I do to prepare for my first visit?
  • Do you offer telephone or online consultations?
  • What options do you offer for after-hours contact?

Find functional medicine practitioners that offer online/phone consultation.

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