What to Expect From a Functional Medicine Visit at the Atma Clinic -- By Dr. Stephen Stevenson
How does a Functional Medicine appointment different from a conventional medicine appointment?
A conventional medicine visit is geared toward making a diagnosis based on the client’s symptoms, and then instituting a treatment plan based on that diagnosis. The conventional medicine visit then focuses mainly on relieving those symptoms rather than treating underlying symptoms.
This difference is reflected in several aspects of a Functional Medicine visit. In this and some upcoming blogs I will describe a few of these differences, such as intake forms, the length of appointments, and some lab tests typically not performed in a conventional medicine setting, as well as the reasons for them.
Clues to the underlying cause of health issues can frequently be found in lifestyle behaviors, previous lifetime events, and genetic predisposition. In-depth investigations of these areas require a much more thorough intake form that is completed before the first appointment. This also requires a longer appointment time than is typically seen in a conventional medicine appointment, as well as specialized laboratory testing to get at the root of health concerns.
The intake forms, generally completed a week before the first visit, gives the practitioner an opportunity to review the client’s history prior to the appointment. This allows the initial interview to be more focused and the time to be used more efficiently. The forms include questions regarding diet, exercise, stress and stress reduction techniques, sleeping patterns, and relationships. This includes questions regarding birth history, as well as childhood events, potential toxic exposures, past medical history, family history, supplements and medications. We also ask clients what their main concerns are, what they hope to gain through the visits, and how willing they are to implement changes in their lifestyle and behaviors to achieve these goals. A three–day diet journal asks the client to record everything they eat and drink to give the provider further insight into their specific dietary patterns.
The initial visit usually lasts about two hours and serves as an information gathering session. This visit also includes a thorough physical exam. Based on these findings, the practitioner may recommend further laboratory testing to help provide additional information.
On the second visit, the practitioner and client discuss the findings and collaborate on a plan to move forward. This also gives the client an opportunity to discuss concerns or questions. In the future, I'll share more about the different laboratory tests employed in the functional medicine as well as additional treatments and approaches.
Dr. Stevenson practices functional medicine at Atma Clinic. Learn more about him here, and contact Atma at 785/760-0695 to schedule you first, free appointment.