3X4’s new Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight series features interviews with practitioners, consultants and functional medicine thought leaders to explore everything functional medicine practitioners need to know about successfully building, managing, and growing their private practice.
The following is an interview we recently had with Kara Dowdall, BS, MS, NBC-HWC, AFMP, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, Founder of Intellect Health.
What can you tell us about your practice?
KD: Coming from a background in healthcare and yet struggling with my own autoimmune illnesses, I was drawn towards the practice of healing in all aspects of life – mind, body and soul.
My practice is Intellect Health – and by applying the principles of functional medicine, I have earned quite the reputation for being a relentless root-cause detective. In 2017, I began working with clients who wanted to understand the root causes of their illness and start living a vivacious life again. I am physically located in Fallbrook, California and see my clients virtually from all over the world.
I earned my BS and MS in Healthcare from the University of Arizona and California State University, respectively. I then pursued postgraduate studies from Duke University, where I studied behavioral health and coaching methods in one of the world’s top integrative medicine programs. From there, I studied at The Institute for Functional Medicine and the School of Applied Functional Medicine.
I was one of the first individuals internationally to become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach through the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. I am pleased to be on the Governing Board of Directors for The Institute for Functional Medicine.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
KD: It shouldn’t have surprised me, but once I was trained in functional medicine, I couldn’t believe how many people need functional medicine to truly heal from chronic disease. We keep working to get the word out!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
KD: Marketing and creating awareness that my practice exists is the biggest challenge at the beginning. Commit work to making connections and letting your practice be known.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
KD: I have two pieces of advice. The first is to become well-known for excellent outcomes in a very specific niche, even though you are trained to take care of most chronic illnesses. You can always expand into other programs once you are busy.
The second is to connect with certified health coaches you like and trust. They can really help your practice by helping your patients achieve excellent outcomes – and you can help support their clinical needs when these arise with their clients.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
KD: While COVID has been devastating, the silver lining is that many people are aware of how their lifestyle contributes to their immune health. Functional medicine focuses on building immune resilience. I hope this promotes wellness and greater health for all.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
I’ll be 60 in 5 years! So I hope to be enjoying a part-time practice and practicing my lifestyle medicine and immune resilience on my farm called La Osita Estate & Farm. I think there will be lots of healthy, organic fruit to share in five years, grown in healthy, rich soil.