10 Functional Medicine Skills (Plus Why They’re Important)

Functional medicine focuses on these five basic principles:
  • Personalized Healthcare. …
  • Science-Based Medicine. …
  • Active Approach to Healing. …
  • Re-Balance of Body Systems. …
  • Optimizing Health and Wellness.

What Is Functional Medicine? | Dr. Hyman Answers Frequently Asked Questions

Why are functional medicine skills important?

You might require particular skills for a career in functional medicine because it differs slightly from conventional medicine and treatments. Possessing these abilities enables you to comprehend various facets of patient assessment, care, and treatment options. Each ability can aid you in looking beyond the treatment of particular symptoms and identifying any underlying conditions. These can assist you in adapting to specific patient needs and presenting remedies that can enhance their wellbeing.

Gaining these abilities can also advance your career. For instance, you can gain your patients’ trust as you develop your scientific knowledge and communication skills. They could offer endorsements or references to help you attract new clients and build your reputation.

10 examples of functional medicine skills

The following abilities are necessary for a career in functional medicine:

1. Medicine knowledge

Functional medicine specialists frequently have a basic understanding of various medical models and treatment modalities. Understanding conventional medicine and how numerous doctors and specialists address particular symptoms that a patient experiences are part of this. You could also look into fields like integrative medicine, where medical professionals treat both symptoms and overall conditions by combining conventional and alternative treatments. Learning about various types includes understanding when particular models may be more useful. For instance, traditional medicine may be the best option for treating a sports injury, while functional medicine may be the best option for treating digestive issues.

2. Communication

Nearly all health care careers depend on having strong communication skills. In functional medicine, you might have to give patients treatment options explanations. For instance, you could describe the impact that altering a person’s diet can have on certain neurological conditions and the steps they can take to change their lifestyle. Communication also requires active listening. This might entail asking specific questions to determine the symptoms they experience, whether any symptoms are connected, and whether any patterns exist.

3. Patience

Due to the potential length of their recommended treatments, functional medicine specialists frequently exhibit patience. Health improvements may proceed with adjustments to things like diet, exercise, and meditation because this field focuses more on modifying the overall functioning of various body parts. You might need to suggest these lifestyle modifications and keep tabs on the patient’s development. You may change treatment options to be more efficient depending on whether your treatments produce the desired results. This skill can show your commitment to your patients.

4. Health care administration

Administrative skills, such as handling patient records, coordinating insurance, and managing a schedule, are necessary for functional medicine. In order to ensure the facility complies with any regulations, this may also entail updating any necessary credentials and working with office personnel. Although you might have assistants or other staff who can assist with managing administrative tasks, being aware of the standards and norms of the healthcare industry can help you establish your own business or get along with others in a facility.

5. Science

Having a strong background in biology and science can help you become an expert in functional medicine. To comprehend how the digestive system functions, how it affects other parts of the body, and how various chemicals and food ingredients can affect health, you might choose to specialize in a particular field, such as nutrition. You frequently need a master’s degree in the medical field to obtain a certificate in functional medicine. Anatomy, biology, and pharmacy classes can all help you broaden your knowledge of science.

6. Physical regulation

Understanding how to regulate the body’s functions is one specialty for functional medicine practitioners. Unbalances in the body caused by illnesses or environmental factors are present in many of the conditions you might experience. Knowing how specific medications, vitamins, or nutrients can restore balance falls under this skill area. Instead of treating the specific symptoms, such as giving a patient an antacid for stomach discomfort, you might suggest that they learn how to help their body heal so that it can naturally rebalance this area.

7. Adaptability

People who are adaptable can quickly switch between various tasks. Professionals in functional medicine might naturally develop this as they advance in their careers because learning about this treatment model offers the chance to alter perspectives on available therapeutic options. Unlike traditional medicine, each patient may need individualized treatment combinations to address their conditions. You can become more adaptable as you manage various patient files, treatment plans, and personalities by having strong organizational skills.

8. Attention to detail

Understanding many aspects of a patient’s health requires attention to detail in order to effectively treat them. Understanding a person’s environment, genetics, diet, and diagnoses may be necessary in order to determine how you can best assist them. Minor specifics, such as the time of day a person experiences a headache, can alter how you might suggest remedies. Monitoring specifics during treatment, such as slight variations in pain levels following acupuncture, can also be part of this.

9. Problem-solving

The capacity to evaluate various scenarios, predict outcomes, and select the ideal solution is known as problem-solving. This is essential in functional medicine because there are a variety of ways to assist patients in regulating their bodies. For instance, you might use a combination of mental health services, dietary changes, and physical therapy to treat a chronic neurological condition in order to promote different brain activity. This ability calls for several other competencies necessary for functional medicine practitioners, including scientific knowledge and meticulousness.

10. Patient care

The ability to interact with a variety of patients and make them feel at ease is necessary for patient care. You can share your commitment to their well-being, be honest with them and assist in educating them about available treatments as these patients may experience physical and mental difficulties. As you assist patients in leading healthier lives, you must exercise compassion and patience. To ensure they receive the right care, you could also suggest other resources and experts.


What does functional medicine include?

Acupuncture, naturopathy, massage, chiropractic, osteopathic medicine, body movement therapies, tai chi, and yoga are a few examples of functional medicine.

Is functional medicine a medical specialty?

In contrast to traditional care, which is frequently focused on treating symptoms, functional medicine doctors have degrees in traditional medical specialties and offer more patient-centered care.

Is functional medicine legitimate?

Is functional medicine a legitimate practice? Yes, when performed correctly. The testing is precise, but it must be used properly. This is part of the art of medicine.

What is the study of functional medicine?

Instead of treating a single set of symptoms, functional medicine treats the body as a whole and focuses on the underlying causes of illness. It is based on data showing that lifestyle factors, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress levels, interpersonal relationships, and genetics, are key causes of chronic disease.

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