Karyn’s work transcends the conventional norms of how medicine is conceived and practiced by going back to our roots—the basic values of healers from a bygone day who understood that with the right conditions, tools, and support we not only live, we can thrive. And when we break, we can heal.
Karyn has board certifications in Internal Medicine and Functional Medicine, and is one of the founding diplomats of the pioneering American Board of Holistic Medicine. She integrates the power of conventional western medicine, with its deeply rooted understanding of molecular, cellular, and organ biology with Functional Medicine, the revolution in healthcare that integrates care through an innovative systems biology approach. She combines these with the science and wisdom of body-mind integration leading, ultimately, to understanding the circumstances of the individual and, in turn, to personalized, sustainable, root-cause-level solutions to our problems.
Karyn is a doctor who walks her talk and enjoys every bit of the health she aspires to with her clients. She is holistic and unusual in her combination of credentials and experiences. Her own journey of healing from deep fatigue and chronic pain and her commitment to honoring her life through self-care makes her especially empathic and trustworthy as your personal guide. She knows firsthand that our healing is in our hands and she teaches you to become your own champion, your own healer.
Having spent the first decade of her career training and working within world-renown conventional medical settings (The University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine; Loyola University Medical Center; The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics), she learned the craft of acute care medicine. She observed the mismatch between this approach and the majority of patients who presented with persistent illness in spite of the state-of-the-art care they received from those institutions. She set on the path of learning a better way early in her career through her continued education and groundbreaking clinical work. She established the first Integrative Women’s Health clinic in her area and built on that to became the founder and medical director of the first Integrative Medicine Center in Iowa. She began intensive training in Functional Medicine in 2001, and launched her unique and revolutionary medical practice—The Center for Medicine and Healing Arts—dedicated to the care of people suffering from chronic complex illness, that same year. She has become widely known and sought out for her innovative practice style that puts the client’s needs at the center of what she does, spending three to four hours with new clients, who relax in comfy chairs and share a pot of tea, discovering together the stories behind their situations, the root causes of their illnesses, and ultimately the path to solutions for their problems.
Her approach to healthcare is remarkably successful at helping people who have suffered, often for years, find the way back to health:
“Karyn Shanks, MD, is the ideal balance of intellect and intuition, science and art, rationalism and empathy. She is one of those rare doctors who practice medicine as both an art and a science. She is intensely curious about the research, the lab values, and statistics but just as intensely curious about her patient’s emotional life, relationships, and the human virtues that make them unique. Because she has an ability to integrate such a breadth and depth of human data, her patients feel seen, heard, and understood. They also experience a restoration of hope and optimism, which, of course, directly relates to their healing. Dr. Shanks is a thought leader and rare gem in the field of medicine, and one who walks her talk. Listen intently to the wisdom she distills....it is right on target.”
-Betsy Rippentrop, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, Author
Dr. Karyn is dedicated to teaching through her writing and mentorship of medical trainees and practicing health professionals. She served as curriculum advisor to the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) and continues to assist them as facilitator to small group learning and clinical roundtable case-based discussions for their core curriculum, Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice.
Since the launch of her youngest child (she has raised two beautiful sons), she has expanded her work to writing—She is putting the finishing touches on her first book and is prolifically writing articles and blog posts shared on her website, karynshanksmd.com. She has been a guest blogger and published articles for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Holstee—Mindful Matter, The Hearty Soul, mindbodygreen, Medium, and TUT (“where thought become things”—the work of legendary Mike Dooley). She shares her personal stories of healing, case studies from her consultation room, and articles that empower through self-care.