Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Programs – 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you an advanced practice registered nurse who wants to provide hands-on, individualized care to patients by doing more than prescribing medication or treatments? Does the idea of doing more than treating the symptoms of illness or disease sound like the kind of nursing practice you want? What if I told you there is a type of medicine that allows healthcare practitioners to provide science-based, patient-centered care while encouraging patients and their healthcare providers to work together to treat the underlying causes of disease and promote wellness? Functional medicine nurse practitioner programs teach nurse practitioners how to accomplish this kind of care. In the following sections of this article, I will provide you with a look at what many believe will be a turning point in nursing care, functional medicine nurse practitioner programs for 2024. I will give you some information about the program, requirements for certification and answer some frequently asked questions to help you get started.

Top 5 Benefits of Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Programs

Functional medicine is a biology-based approach to patient care that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease and illness. Below is a list of the top 5 benefits of functional medicine NP programs.

1. Learn to Identify and Treat illness at the Source of Symptoms:

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for patients to be prescribed medications used to treat multiple symptoms associated with various diseases without being correctly diagnosed. Functional medicine nurse practitioner programs teach practitioners to identify the source of illness or disease that is causing a client to experience symptoms. By identifying the source of the problem, clinicians can prescribe a treatment plan that helps resolve the root cause of the problem.

2. Develop the Skills Needed to Provide Individualized Care:

Because each person's body has a unique response to illness or disease, healthcare providers must identify the individual needs of each client. Functional medicine NP programs help nurse practitioners learn how to identify each client's response to illness and develop care plans specific to that client's needs.

3. Learn Ways to Involve Patients and Motivate Change that Improves Health:

As functional medicine nurse practitioners take a patient’s history, they use skills learned in the program to give the patient insight into things that may be causing symptoms. When patients begin to see how previous life events or habits affect their health and well-being, they can be more easily motivated to change their patterns of behavior and have an active role in their treatment plans.

4. Cultivate Communication Skills that Foster Good Patient/Provider Relationships:

The tools used by functional medicine practitioners are designed to help establish effective communication and build rapport between patients and providers. Effective communication is an essential skill for anyone who works in the healthcare industry to develop.

5. Become Part of a Growing Community of Functional Medicine Providers:

The practice of functional medicine is becoming more widespread as healthcare providers gain a deeper understanding of the importance of personalized care. Functional medicine NP programs equip nurse practitioners with the skills needed to use personalized knowledge of each client’s genetics, biochemistry, and metabolomics to deliver care that is unique to each client.

How Long Are Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Programs?

The Institute of Functional Medicine’s certification program is currently being offered online only due to COVID-19. The program is designed to be completed in approximately eight months. However, participants who wish to take longer can take up to four years to complete the program. Some medical residency programs in the United States have begun to partner with the IFM to offer functional medicine nurse practitioner residency programs and medical residency training programs. These programs are typically offered as an optional addition to a resident’s current education pathway.

How Much Do Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?

Colleges, universities, or institutes that offer functional medicine nurse practitioner programs may have some variation in their programs' cost. As mentioned later in this article, currently, the only exclusive Functional Medicine Program available in the United States is offered at the Institute of Functional Medicine. The cost of the program, excluding application and testing fees, is between $12,000 and $16,000. There are, however, some schools that are beginning to incorporate functional medicine practices into the curriculum of other programs.

What Is the Curriculum Like in A Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Program?

The curriculum of functional medicine NP programs may vary as more colleges and universities begin to offer functional medicine as a specialty. Currently, the curriculum for the program provided by the Institute of Functional Medicine includes the following coursework.

• Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery: Patient Care in a Pandemic
• Immune Advanced Practice Module
• Hormone Advanced Practice Module
• Bioenergetics Advanced Practice Module
• Gastrointestinal Advanced Practice Module
• Environmental Health Advanced Practice Module
• Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice

What Are the Admission Requirements?

The Institute for Functional Medicine has established minimum admission criteria for prospective participants in its Functional Medicine Program. Nurses who wish to apply for the program must possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse and must have achieved a minimum Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. The program does consider other degree holders who meet the minimum requirements for admission. However, the Institute stresses that meeting minimum eligibility requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Other factors that are considered include the following.

• Educational background
• Program degree
• Regulatory status
• Clinical experience


(Although some colleges and universities are beginning to recognize Functional Medicine as a practice, there is currently only one program dedicated exclusively to Functional Medicine in the United States. This program is ideal for individuals who aspire to become a Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner.)

The Institute for Functional Medicine - Federal Way, WA

Program Type:

Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice

What Kinds of Career Opportunities Exist for Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioners?

While their approach to patient care is somewhat different, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioners work in many of the same areas or positions that other practitioners work. The following is a list of some career opportunities you may find after graduating from any functional medicine NP program.

• Clinical Research

- conduct studies, experiments, and research to show the link between illness and wellness and to support the idea of functional medicine as a positive approach to patient care

• Family Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner

- provides care to patients across the lifespan using the functional medicine approach of patient care

• Telemedicine Functional Nurse Practitioner

- provide remote functional medicine treatment for clients using online consultation and telehealth services

• Functional Medicine NP Health Coach

- using the functional medicine system of care, instruct patients on ways to promote health and wellness


In this article, you have learned information about the top functional medicine nurse practitioner program for 2024. If you like the idea of providing more individualized patient care, using techniques that make you “think outside the box,” a career as a functional medicine nurse practitioner may be what you have been looking for.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

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