3X4’s new State of Functional Medicine series features interviews with a diverse range of active practitioners and established thought leaders to learn more about why they chose the field of functional medicine, what excites them most about their work, the most common misconceptions they hear from patients, and most importantly — how they see the field evolving in the years ahead as healthcare shifts to be more personalized, proactive, and preventative.
Functional medicine practitioners play a key role in helping patients understand who they are so they can improve their quality of life which is what we’re all about here at 3X4. Our goal with this new series is to celebrate the work these practitioners are doing and inspire others to explore the exciting field of functional medicine.
The following is an interview we have recently had with Theresa Hernandez, APN/CNP, IFMCP, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified in Functional Medicine, Family First Functional Medicine.
Why did you decide to make functional medicine your focus?
TH: I believe that this is truly the way that medicine should be approached. Root cause medicine. I was practicing traditional medicine and seemed like it was just a cover to a bigger issue at hand. I wanted to really get people better, not just temporarily bring them comfort. Also, my oldest son started to get ear infections and allergies at a young age and that also really made me passionate about solving the problem, not just pacifying it.
Who have been your greatest mentors in your functional medicine journey?
TH: Dr. George Elvove, Dr. Greg Sharon, Dr. Julie Reardon, Dr. Elisa Song.
What excites you most about your day to day work?
TH: I get patients of all ages motivated to start taking part in their health, and I give them the confidence they need to fulfill their health goals. I also give them the reassurance that foundational principles are key! I have brought so many patients comfort and joy knowing that their symptoms are not their new normal, they can actually get back to good health.
What’s the most challenging part of your day to day work?
TH: Documentation. And, getting patients to believe sometimes that it really is just that simple! Most often there is not a fancy test or supplement that is required to promote good health.
What do patients most commonly get wrong about functional medicine?
TH: They think we disagree with traditional medicine, or that we function like vudu-doctors or that it is so high priced that it’s unaffordable to them.
What’s holding the field of functional medicine back?
TH: There is no financial gain to getting better quicker, there is no payback, like the pharmaceutical world. plus there are so many practitioners that keep their consultation rates so high, it makes it unaffordable to most, and that looks like we are practicing something out of the ordinary.
What has your experience been with genetic testing?
TH: It is helpful sometimes, but both the practitioner and patient can get in trouble if you start messing around. It is more than a plug in, given this situation. There is a whole picture and patient to assess.
How do you see the practice of functional medicine evolving in the years ahead?
TH: People are going to be searching for functional medicine, because they are smart. I think most are starting to believe that they aren’t as healthy as they believe they are. and that they are worth the investment. My focus is with the children so many parents are realizing that the traditional treatments are not the right way to go, to approach a functional issue. It’s going to hopefully become much more accessible and affordable! At least that is my main goal.
About Theresa Hernandez
Theresa Hernandez APN/CNP, IFMCP, is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Certified Functional Medicine Provider at Family First Functional Medicine. She’s been a pioneer for Wholistic Family Care and Nursing Faculty at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She individualizes her care for each patient and emphasizes getting to the root cause of symptoms, not just disease management. She is particularly passionate about providing care to Pediatric patients and their families.