How IFN Academy Was Born

Turning a dream into action

It was more than a decade ago at a functional medicine conference, we met and we just clicked. We were two dietitians, conventionally trained with advanced degrees in nutrition, hungry for more knowledge, and convinced that this new functional medicine thing was the future of medicine.

Talking over dinner, we discovered we both felt a profound lack of satisfaction with our careers and that had led us to functional medicine. We knew in our hearts that there was more to the practice of nutrition than designing simple meal plans for our patients. And now we had found it. Our journey together had just begun.

After the conference, we stayed in touch, sharing our experiences of integrating functional medicine into practice. Sheila opened Palm Harbor Center for Health and Healing, one of the largest and most successful functional nutrition centers in the country. She also nurtured her love for teaching (she is a dynamic teacher!) as an adjunct nutrition science professor at a variety of universities including the University of Tampa, Maryland University of Integrative Health, and University of South Florida’s Morsani School of Medicine (to name just a few).

Kathie returned to Massachusetts to champion functional medicine at Canyon Ranch as the Nutrition Director. While there, she introduced functional medicine to Dr. Mark Hyman, who later became a powerful voice in this evidence-informed model. Dr. Hyman continues to be a valued collaborator and supporter of IFN Academy and serves on our Credential Board. Kathie also worked for the Center of Mind-Body Medicine where she developed and acted as Education Director and lead faculty (also a brilliant teacher!) for the Center’s groundbreaking program Food As Medicine.

As time went on, we were struck by the growing number of RD’s, both students and practitioners who were reaching out to us for mentoring and internships in functional medicine. We realized there was a dire need for a formal, comprehensive training program. Fueled by our passion for the power of functional nutrition we began to dream, plan, and build the Integrative and Functional Nutrition (IFN) Academy! (cue Rocky theme song!)

Our mission was both simple and daunting:
to transform the practice of nutrition with a deep sense of purpose.

From its conception, IFN Academy was grounded in the science of nutritional systems biology and functional medicine.

We invited the brightest minds in the field to join our faculty—and they came! We thoughtfully crafted a robust, cohesive training program that freed students from the overwhelming task of piecing together the body of knowledge and clinical acumen that is required to be a competent integrative and functional nutrition practitioner. It took plenty of hard work, research, creativity, and long hours (did we mention long hours?), but we succeeded in creating what we believe is the industry’s most comprehensive online training program for healthcare professionals.

And the process is ongoing! The IFNA curriculum is continually updated with new research, protocols, and case reports so that our students always learn the latest information. We are sticklers for that.

Our drive and passion to offer the most valued functional nutrition certification and advanced practice training  in the industry continues to inspire and guide us. As do our students and alumni! We are committed to offering you a deeply fulfilling and career-changing experience. We welcome you on the journey with us!

Sheila & Kathie

Dr Sheila Dean, DSc, RDN, LDN, IFNCP
Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ