Rachel Fischer, MD, MPH, is the Integrative Therapeutics Distinguished Professor of Functional Medicine at the University of Western States. She has an MS in epidemiology and public health from the University of Utah School of Medicine, where she also received her medical degree. During her MS training, she completed the University of Michigan’s Summer Institute in Epidemiology. After medical school and internal medicine residency at the University of Utah, she completed a fellowship in occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Washington, where she also received an MPH degree with an emphasis in environmental health. Her graduate research, which received an Outstanding Resident Research award from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, evaluated the relationship between shift work and reproductive cancers among a large cohort of women in Shanghai, China. Prior to medical school, Dr. Fischer worked on the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening trial – a landmark National Institutes of Health, multi-center randomized control trial. Her research interests continue to be on the effects of environmental exposures on human health, most currently antibiotic use in food animals.
Since medical school, Dr. Fischer’s research interests have gravitated toward preventive medicine and optimal health and performance. She is board certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine and is currently pursing certification by the Institute of Functional Medicine. Her background in functional and preventive medicine also earned her a role as a faculty member in the new Northwest Center for Lifestyle and Functional Medicine (NWCLFM) at UWS. The virtual center’s vision is to promote healthy behaviors and positive lifestyle changes in order to achieve optimal quality of life for the members of our community through service, education and research.
- What made you decide to come to UWS? Ultimately, it was the people and their shared belief that a transformation in patient care is necessary to address the complex, chronic diseases that so significantly impact public health. Drs. Brimhall, Evans, Pfeifer and other UWS leaders I’ve met are obviously committed to improving the quality of human life, not just treating disease. I wanted to be part of an organization with that kind of vision.
- What excites you the most about the school’s future? The school’s continued investment in functional medicine education, research, training and practice.
- What is your new role going to be and what made you decide that this role was right for you? I will be serving as the Integrative Therapeutics distinguished professor of nutrition and functional medicine. I knew this role was right for me for several reasons. By teaching, I learn, which is always fun. Plus, my role in the nutrition and functional medicine master’s degree program will give me the unique opportunity to help create future functional medicine practitioners and leaders. Before starting medical school I was interested in preventing disease, not just treating symptoms. Functional medicine is perfectly in line with my belief that to treat disease, one must identify and address the root cause – something really not taught or practiced in the typical medical practice model. And perhaps more importantly, I want to help individuals recognize their risk factors for developing disease before it manifests.
- What is your top priority for your first year in your new position? Creating a systemized method to educate and inspire patients in the lifestyle arenas most under their control: diet, movement/exercise, stress and sleep. You could say I’m passionate about performance optimization, whether that’s for a parent wanting more energy to play with their children or for an athlete wanting to excel in their sport.
- What do you think is the benefit to patients when medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic and massage therapists work side-by side in an integrative health care model? I think the benefit is that the patient is then seen as a whole person – not just an isolated diagnosis. Integrated health care provides a more comprehensive view of how to heal, understanding that there is seldom one way. Each profession contributes a valuable perspective.
- Wild Card – Dog person or cat person and why? Dog person. Most dogs I know are happy, loving, playful and forgiving. I think they are role models for humanity.
- Nutritional Epidemiology and Clinical Research
- Immune Imbalances and Inflammation
- Exploring the concepts of intended, planned and wanted pregnancy. Journal of Family Practice (1999), 48: 117-22;
- Defining the dimensions of pregnancy intendedness. Maternal and Child Health Journal (2000), 4 (3): 183-89.