October, 2012 |
Dr Kristy Prouse, MD, FRCSC Institute for Hormonal Health
IHP has had the privilege of interviewing what has now been dozens of conventionally- trained physicians who at some point in their career make the decision to adopt integrative systems of practice. Each of these stories unfolds with unique circumstances, yet they all seem to share a stunning number of similarities. Dr Kristy Prouse, MD, FRCSC is a welcomed addition to the growing list of conventionally- trained Canadian physicians finding answers to difficult medical questions among the trainings of integrative healthcare providers.
After many years of conventional practice as an OBGYN, performing several thousand deliveries and gynecological surgeries, Kristy felt she was lacking adequate tools to help a large and growing number of her patients. Training that included bioidentical hormone therapy, an understanding of the concept of adrenal fatigue, nutrition and nutraceutical science, and herbal medicines has seen her transform her career into something her colleagues from the past remain confused by. Welcome to the practice of integrative medicine Kristy. As yet another conventionally- trained physician we interviewed once stated “once you start using this type of medicine, you find yourself ethically unable to go back”.
Dr Prouse began her academic training in 1998 with a degree in Psychology from Western University. She obtained a second undergraduate degree in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Toronto, then went on to complete medical training at Queen’s University. In 1988 Kristy began her medical residency at the University of Calgary in Obstetrics and Gynecology, where she received the Laparoscopic Surgery Award of Excellence. In 2002 Kristy entered her first practice, in Orillia, Ontario. This “smaller” town setting was a general OBGYN practice. Two years later, Kristy moved to the Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga, to be closer to her ailing mother. She maintained her position at the Trillium Health Centre, and simultaneously took on roles of Associate Professor at the University of Toronto School of Medicine and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Kristy maintained her role at the Trillium Health Centre until October of 2011, opening the Institute for Hormonal Health, in Oakville, Ontario, in November of 2011.
What led this well- decorated, successful, mother of twin 11 year old girls, OBGYN to leave the Trillium Health Centre in favour of opening her own model of integrative health centre? As has often been the case, Dr Prouse’s story begins with a personal health crisis. “There was a lot happening at once… the demands of practice at the Trillium centre… frustration with aspects of the care I was providing people… feeling I didn’t have good answers for a lot of the concerns my patients had… Then realizing I was in need of the same solutions my patients were seeking! By early 2011, I was simply burnt out! I started thinking of ways to manage my situation, but did so not knowing a different medical model may have a solution for me. My answers were to consider practicing half time, perhaps bringing a colleague on board to share a practice with, and I was even considering outright retirement”. Kristy goes on to describe “after having considered visiting an integrative healthcare provider for some time, a set of unique circumstances arose where a specific integrative healthcare provider was suggested to me as someone to see on four separate occasions within a 48 hour period! I was diagnosed as having “adrenal fatigue”… I felt better within days of initiating treatment”.
This personal journey led Kristy to dedicate countless hours to literature- based research on the concept of adrenal fatigue, which then spurred interest in the much larger spectrum of practice that comprises integrative medicine. Kristy felt that what she was finding was the solution to the many problems she had seen in years of practice as an OBGYN that she had no solution for. She described a sense of the system of practice being much more in alignment with her person… “alignment with what I was meant to be doing”… Since making the transition to an integrative system of practice Kristy feels renewed. “Recognizing patterns in history and physical examination as well as implementing objective testing has me using my brain in a way I haven’t in years! The most rewarding part however is effecting significant change for many people who are seeking our help after exhausting their options in the conventional system and after being told that there is nothing wrong with them.”
Kristy has managed to assemble an incredible team of integrative healthcare providers, each brining a unique skillset to complement the team as a whole. Dr Andrea Kuzmiski, ND, a 2004 graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, certified in parenteral therapy, is described as a key member of the team. Among the broad set of skills Andrea is able to showcase in the facility, Kristy highlights the immense value of parenteral therapies, especially for what is described as advanced stages of adrenal fatigue. The Institute for Hormonal Health team also includes Kristina Graham, holistic nutritionist, Michelle Armstrong, personal trainer and wellness counselor, Ashna Starett, holistic health practitioner, and Camille Lawson, sex therapist.
Many centres of integrative healthcare attempt to duplicate the IHH model of care delivery, yet most fail to do so. Jennine Le Tendre acts as the patient care coordinator. A patients first and second visit are booked with Dr Prouse. A portion of these visits is OHIP covered, dealing with the taking of the case history and physical exam. There is also a fee for service for patient visits, as well as fees for integrative tests performed, etc… Integrative testing is often recommended, the specific test(s) chosen based on the case presentation. The second visit with Dr Prouse provides an opportunity for the patient to review the findings of the intake, physical exam, and results of integrative testing, and to decide upon the best course of treatment. Jennine plays a vital role serving as the patient’s point of contact, educating patients as to the use of integrative diagnostic test kits, and coordinating future patient visits to the team members best suited for the specific case in question. The IHH achieves a truly integrative model of care, with Kristy serving as the medical coordinator and Jennine serving as the patient coordinator for each case.
I asked Kristy about the reaction of her colleagues to the news that she would be leaving the Trillium Health Centre to open a private integrative medical practice. She replied “they were supportive and excited for me, but somewhat uninterested in what I was going to be doing”. That got me thinking… I have met many hundreds, thousands in fact, of conventionally- trained MD’s who have never read a thing about integrative medicine, but are convinced it is a useless practice. Each and every MD who spends even 10 hours reading about integrative medicine invariably ends up at the same place; reading more about integrative medicine. And after enough hours of reading, such MD’s either practice integrative medicine themselves, or partner with integrative healthcare practitioners to make such care available to their patients. So we seem to be evolving to a solution… We need to expose MD’s to evidence pertaining to integrative medicine… “One MD at a time” seems to be working quite well, as the number of conventionally- trained MD’s taking up practice as integrative healthcare providers is growing exponentially. It seems we are approaching a tipping point… How long can it possibly be until true integrative medicine makes its way into medical school curriculums?
IHP is grateful to Dr Kristy Prouse and the entire Institute for Hormonal Health team for taking the time to allow us to showcase their efforts to you. A conventionally- trained OBGYN felt the care she was providing was lacking, improved her own health through visits to an integrative healthcare provider, and subsequently evolved her own career to mirror the lessons she learned through research and a personal healing journey. After five years of delivering IHP this is somewhat of a broken record, yet one we love hearing over and over again.