Broadening Patient Care Offerings Through Nutrition and Functional Medicine

Learn more from these ambitious alumni who completed both a doctor of chiropractic degree (DC) and a master’s in human nutrition and functional medicine (HNFM) from University of Western States.

Alumni Profile Contributors

Jordan Graeme, DC Class of 2011, HNFM Class of 2014
Stephen Hussey, DC Class of 2013, HNFM Class of 2014
Kirstin Lauritzen, DC Class of 2016, HNFM Class of 2018
Maxwell Muehleip, DC Class of 2016, HNFM Class of 2017

Tell us a little bit about your career path and professional goals.

Dr. Muehleip: I didn’t jump into practice immediately; I needed a break after the doctoral program and wanted to focus on the HNFM program as much as possible. I started working at RENU Chiropractic with doctors Duy Bui, Rose Han, Mike Nguyen and Andi Brokaw [and then] in 2018 when my son Magnus was born. I had a great experience as a new doctor working with Dr. Bui. He taught me many of the business and marketing lessons and how to tap back into the incredible power correcting spinal subluxations. In April 2020, I had the opportunity to join a nutrition-focused practice for retiring DC/ND Kathryn Morter. I now work in an integrated setting alongside Saba Jhaveri, ND, Alyoisus Fobi, MD, and Eric Timmons, FNP-C. These days I treat a wide variety of patients. Recently, I worked with a young patient suffering from cold sores, an on the job (OTJ) injury, a veteran through TriWest, and a young patient suffering from autoimmune hepatitis. I feel I’m in a great place for my professional goals.

Dr. Hussey: I have always worked as an associate chiropractic physician and have also been the director of a few nutrition and functional medicine programs at the clinics I have worked. In my current position, I’m an associate chiropractic physicians and director of the nutrition program. I never wanted to own my own chiropractic practice., as I wanted more freedom than I felt that would give me and was much more interested in independent research. The HNFM program is part of what gave me a base to grow from in my independent research. Aside from my work in the clinical setting, I have also written two books on health and have an online health consulting business where I see clients around the world.

Dr. Lauritzen: When I started chiropractic school and during, I don’t think I had very clear goals or a clear vision of where I wanted to go with my degree. All I knew was that I was an athlete that wanted to work with athletes and I wanted to work for myself. Now, I am the clinic director and owner of Northwest Functional Medicine and I combine both chiropractic and functional medicine with my patients. My practice is 80% female athletes, which is awesome as more research has become available in the past few years that the way we look at injury, rehabilitation and nutrition around sports performance needs to consider the differences between genders and physiology for better outcomes.

Dr. Graeme: Compared to when I was a student when I focused on sports medicine, I’m on a completely different path. I got to experience sports medicine with local college teams and arena football and I interned with Dr. Kelli Pearson. She worked in a clinic with a local PT group where I experienced integrative medicine too. Now, I work at a hospital and 75-80% of my patients are chronic pain patients, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This work is very rewarding and I’m always goal-oriented, trying to find ways to improve myself and my practice and where I should go next with my career.

What factors influenced you to complete both a DC and a HNFM degree program at UWS?

Dr. Muehleip: I was lucky enough to grow up with chiropractic care and as a kid and in practice I’ve witnessed spinal manipulation do some miraculous things. However, as a child I suffered from lots of chronic health problems – allergies to foods, mold, dust, animal dander and severe asthma. My grandmother was old-school and a big proponent of Standard Process supplements, clean eating and plenty of exercise outside. When my parents started cleaning up my diet at her insistence, those chronic problems started to disappear. I knew I not only wanted to keep myself healthy, I wanted to spread the good word to as many people as I could. When I applied and got into four different chiropractic schools around the U.S., it was the HNFM program at UWS that tipped the scale and got me to Oregon.

Dr. Hussey: I decided to do the HNFM program right after the DC program because I felt that there was more to learn about healing people than what chiropractic alone had to offer.

Dr. Graeme: I was in the first cohort for the master’s program and I was six months post-graduation with my DC degree. I was new in practice and happened to see a lot of chronic pain in the clinic, and diet and nutrition was part of that – but they said, “What do you know, you’re just a chiropractor.” I asked myself how I could better serve this chronic pain population and this was the same time UWS started the master’s program.

Dr. Lauritzen: I was always passionate about nutrition, especially when I started realizing that a lot of my health issues were in large part due to medicines and food. When I learned about functional medicine, it just made sense to me that we should be looking for the root cause of illness, injury and disease. In many ways having a nutrition and functional medicine degree has given me a large set of tools and a different perspective in clinical care. I get to look at the body, and the patients’ symptoms, from a musculoskeletal perspective, to nutrition, to the functional systems-based approach of internal medicine. Now, I give talks frequently on nutrient deficiencies in athletes – particularly female athletes. I don’t think I would have specialized in this way were it not for my HNFM degree.

Do you feel that having both degrees has given you a competitive edge in the professional world?

Dr. Graeme: Yes, it helped me to be a better provider and I believe an asset to me being hired at OHSU as it provides another alternative for pain management. 

Dr. Muehleip: I grew up in rural Iowa about 90 minutes north of Palmer. Every town has at least one chiropractic physician and having my MS (and working towards my Certified Nutrition Specialist credential), helps to separate me from the crowd. I say this is true of all of the wonderful master’s programs at UWS.

Dr. Hussey: I have had five employers since graduating and all but one of them said that the HNFM degree was a big part of why I was hired.

How do you apply what you learned in the HNFM program to your DC practice?

Dr. Hussey: The HNFM program gave me a basic understanding of many of the imbalances in the body that need to be addressed for people to attain or maintain their health. The education I received in the program gave me the foundation on which I needed to seek out more knowledge on my own, and is part of what lead me to using the strategies I use in practice today.

Dr. Graeme: It varies, it’s always incorporated into my regular patient care – diet, lifestyle, supplementation those things are important to optimize function. I do nutrition counseling occasionally with pain management, but overall, it’s incorporated into my own daily routine. It’s important to have inter-practitional exposure and learn from other disciplines and perspectives.

Dr. Laurtizen: A large part of what I do and what I’ve ended up specializing in due to the patients that have presented in my practice is to evaluate for gastrointestinal function/complaints, autoimmune disease and also nutrient deficiencies in athletes. I honestly wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing this without my HNFM degree. It was a great starting framework to learn how to diagnose and treat these conditions. Now, I work with triathletes, CrossFit athletes and many other active individuals. Plus, I get to combine the internal medicine and nutrition work with looking at movement patterns and physical medicine. A day at work is never the same and never boring!

Dr. Muehleip: I have a much more detailed initial intake than your typical chiropractic clinic, with a physical examination starting head to toe. All those examination procedures we learned in the doctoral program that seemed ‘excessive’ during clinical rotations? I do that with my new patients. It gives me a much better overall picture of their physical health rather than only a musculoskeletal perspective. I send my new patients out for labs regularly and perform applied kinesiology muscle testing to assess for visceral-somatic reflexes. Working alongside a naturopath, nurse practitioner and a medical doctor, I’m able to refer patients wherever they require additional help. I treat a wider variety of patients and it’s a whole lot of fun!

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