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Copyrights: Copyright © 2015 by author(s) and International College of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

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Citation: Carnahan C, Vasquez A. Interview with Dr. Jill Carnahan (M.D., Family Medicine), Functional Medicine Expert Clinician.

Int J Hum Nutr

Funct Med


International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

Photos by Jill Carnahan of the area around Boulder, Colorado, USA


Personal Experiences

• Functional Medicine • Clinical Practice

Interview with Dr. Jill Carnahan

(M.D., Family Medicine),

Functional Medicine Expert


by Dr Alex Vasquez

Introduction and Background

Dr. Carnahan completed her residency at the University of

Illinois Program in Family Medicine at Methodist Medical

Center. In 2006 she was voted by faculty to receive the

Resident Teacher of the Year

award and elected to


Illinois 40 Leaders Under 40

. She received her medical

degree from Loyola University - Stritch School of

Medicine in Chicago and her Bachelor of Science degree

in Bio-Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-

Champaign. She is dually board-certified in Family

Medicine (ABFM) and Integrative Holistic Medicine

(ABIHM). She was also part of the first 100 health-care

practitioners to be certified in Functional Medicine

through the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFMCP). Dr.

Carnahan is also a 13-year survivor of breast cancer and

Crohn’s disease and passionate about teaching patients

how to “live well” and thrive in the midst of complex and

chronic illness. She is also committed to teaching other

physicians how to address underlying cause of illness

rather than just treating symptoms through the principles

of functional medicine.

Jill / Dr Carnahan, you have an impressive and well-

rounded background from the biography

summarized above. What piqued your interests in

healthcare and medicine? Was medicine always your

plan, or did you have another career path in mind

when you initially studied Bioengineering at UI


Thank you, Dr. Vasquez. I’ve always loved science and

helping others so it was a natural fit to go into medicine.

Although I majored in Bio-Engineering at the University

of Illinois, my desire was always to eventually study

medicine. What I didn’t know was which field of medicine

I was going to pursue. I actually applied to a Traditional

Chinese Medicine program as well as several Osteopathic

and Chiropractic schools in addition to allopathic

medicine. I had an intense curiosity regarding the “why”

of human health and disease, and I knew that I wanted to

learn more about how one could live well to prevent

disease and teach patients to do the same. The

philosophies of osteopathy and chiropractic aligned well

[great pun]

with my own, and initially I wasn’t sure if I

wanted to go the allopathic route. However, I ended up

feeling that the best way to change the system was from

within and decided to pursue a Western allopathic medical

education formally while pursuing education in nutrition

and integrative medicine informally on my own. During

my first two years of medical school, I had not yet heard

of functional medicine even though this happened to be

exactly the model for a new era of healthcare for which I

was searching.