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Fellow Spotlight – Ruth Michaelis, MD

I’m a family physician who has worked my whole 18 year career at HealhPoint community health center (CHC) which was the first CHC in the nation to have naturopaths. I have been the regional director of medical education with AT Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona since the school opened it’s community campuses in 2008. The medical school embeds students in CHCs for three years. I have been partnering with Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health on an IPE HRSA grant where dental students work with medical students in a medical clinic setting, each teaching each other about their tools of the trade with the patients benefiting from having dental assessments at their medical visits. In addition to partnering with dentists, I am privileged to work with psychologists, clinical pharmacists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, nutritionists, nurses and social workers when I see patients in the community health center setting.

How has the Fellowship impacted your personal life?

I’m taking a lot more supplements and herbs than I ever imagined. So are my kids and partner. As I learn about different things, I apply the knowledge to myself and my family. We were all deficient in a variety of vitamins and minerals and so now that’s been corrected. Also, I’ve decided that the best way to learn about some of the herbs is to try them myself. I feel that this first hand knowledge will help with making recommendations to patients.

How has the Fellowship impacted your professional life?

Overall, I’m finding that my approach to patients is more comprehensive and I have more tools in my toolbox. I find myself thinking of specific patients when I’m learning about different diagnoses, techniques, herbs, deficiencies and labs. I’m better at motivational interviewing and have taken some of those lessons and passed them on in a training to 30 medical students and faculty. In addition when working with students, I’m able to offer integrative medicine suggestions for patient problems to add to their learning. Recently a premed student shadowed me and was amazed at some of the things that I recommended from integrative medicine and so I feel privileged that I’ve been able to demonstrate these tools in action.

Has the way you deliver care to your patients changed since you began the Fellowship?

I’m obtaining a lot more magnesium levels in my higher risk patients and asking more questions about diets to find out what’s missing. For example for high trigs, I’m recommending fish oil; for patients that have limited diets, I’m confident about doing a diet assessment to see what is missing in their intake; for prediabetics I’m discussing apple cider vinegar. I’m prescribing more vitamins of all kinds and understanding the complexities around what is the best time to take the different supplements. For some of my longer term patients, I’ve enjoyed sharing more intimate lessons with them like the patient story.

What are your hobbies/interests?

Playing games and going for walks with my kids. Backpacking, running and skate skiing. Gardening and canning the produce.

Tell us something unique or fun about you!

I’ve ridden an ostrich.

Ruth Michaelis, MD Links to Practices