For Dr. Mary Colfer, WellcomeMD was the answer to many of the challenges that she faced working in emergency medicine. A Richmond native, Colfer attended the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating, she practiced emergency medicine for 14 years. While her work was important, she describes it as being reactive; instead of practicing sickness medicine, she was interested in proactive, preventative medicine.
Fortunately, an opportunity arose to do a fellowship in an area of functional medicine called anti-aging, or as Dr. Colfer calls it, optimal aging. This form of functional medicine looks at the individual and helps them improve their quality of life on a case-to-case basis. Colfer’s experience in anti-aging was the perfect segue into her work at WellcomeMD, where she takes a deeper dive into her patients’ labs, genes, and lifestyle to optimize their health.
Dr. Colfer describes the difference between traditional and functional medicine simply. Traditionally, a doctor might watch a patient’s blood sugar numbers until it’s time to write them a prescription for diabetes or prediabetes. At WellcomeMD, she looks at a whole panel of markers for early signs of insulin resistance and then makes lifestyle recommendations to get those numbers back to normal, instead of just watching them progress to abnormal. Not only that, but offices like WellcomeMD that practice functional medicine have a team of people, including a nutritionist and a fitness coach, that helps patients succeed in making preventative lifestyle changes. Put simply, Colfer says, “we don’t just say that you need to lose weight. We make very specific recommendations on your nutrition and how to help you succeed with your fitness routine.”
“We don’t just say that you need to lose weight. We make very specific recommendations on your nutrition and how to help you succeed with your fitness routine.”
Because medical care at WellcomeMD is personalized, so are expectations for treatment. For example, if a patient “has a history of fibromyalgia or a knee injury,” Colfer describes, WellcomeMD is “not going to tell you that you need to go to some kind of boot camp class five days a week because [that’s] not going to work.”
Functional medicine, anti-aging, precision, and integrative medicine are all terms that people are starting to hear more and more, and Colfer believes that they all have some overlap. In many cases, “we’re looking for the cause of disease instead of just waiting for the disease to develop and then writing a prescription.” Many times, that prescription is absolutely necessary, even life-lengthening, but even better is being able to look for those initial signs and symptoms before a prescription is needed.