This health tip is especially exciting for me as I have the pleasure of announcing that a new physician, Kristen Donigan, DO, has joined WholeHealth Chicago and is available for appointments. After a decade of trying to find my first physician associate, I felt blessed when Casey Kelley, MD, joined us, though I was concerned that it might take another ten years to find a second qualified physician.
It’s important to say why this process takes so long. Nationwide, just a handful of physicians who complete their residencies plan a career practicing primary care integrative medicine, which combines conventional medicine with alternative therapies and (surprise!) emphasizes preventive care. You’d think all doctors would want to do this, wouldn’t you? Well, they don’t. It takes a well-educated physician to understand that medicine is far more complex than ordering tests and writing prescriptions. Seems everyone wants to be a super-specialist these days, with primary care apparently being handed over to nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Let me share some of the reasons we consider ourselves so very fortunate that Dr Donigan has joined us:
- Instead of attending one of the standard medical schools that educate physicians-to-be in one system and one only, Dr Donigan chose the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University. Most of the public is confused about osteopathy, so let’s clarify: all osteopaths are medical doctors (they are doctors of osteopathy, or DOs), though not all medical doctors are osteopaths. Her license is the same as mine, with a significant added plus. It’s osteopaths much more than MDs who have always embraced a holistic approach to their patients. Their training routinely includes much of what conventional doctors call “alternative” therapies. As a result, many of the larger integrative practices in the US (and in Chicago as well) are staffed by DOs rather than MDs.
- After leaving Midwestern University, Dr Donigan was accepted into the residency program in internal medicine at Rush University, hands down one of the top training programs for internists in the US.
- I know from the letters of recommendation we received from Rush that Dr Donigan was one of their top residents.
- Not surprisingly, she sailed through her Internal Medicine board exams and to pay her bills has been working as a highly regarded internist in the western suburbs.
- Throughout her medical education, both in school and during her residency, Dr Donigan independently studied integrative medicine. Her special interest (like Dr Kelley’s) has been functional medicine, which can be described as medicine by cause, not by symptoms.
- Despite her busy schedule as a primary care internist, Dr Donigan is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the American Holistic Medical Association and has taken several of their postgraduate courses.
For the past month, Dr Donigan has been in the examining room with me as I interview new patients. Afterwards, we’d discuss how best to manage the patient’s problems, what alternative therapies would be most helpful, and what supplements and natural products could be used instead of prescription drugs.
During these conversations I said to myself rhetorically more than once, “David, can you believe you’re talking about herbal therapies, energy medicine, and homeopathy with someone who was a Medical Resident at Rush? And she’s listening attentively and taking notes instead of laughing up her sleeve.”
As Bob Dylan put it, “The times they are a-changin’.”
I’m confident you’ll be as pleased with Dr Donigan as I am. To make an appointment with her, just contact us.
David Edelberg, MD