My name is Magdalena, and I have recently joined the wonderful team at Case Integrative Health as a Physician Assistant. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you one on one, and helping you along on your healthcare journeys - but first, here’s a little about myself.
My journey into the world of medicine hasn’t been as straightforward as many others in the profession, but I feel that sets me apart to be of better service to my patients. For starters, I was born and raised in Poland. There, the decision to attend Medical School is one you make directly after the completion of high school. While I always had a deep fascination with the workings of the human body, I did not feel quite ready to make that large leap at such a young age. So, I followed in the footsteps of my mother and obtained a teaching degree. When I moved to the United States, I realized I had a second chance to go back to school and pursue my passion for medicine - so that is exactly what I did. I obtained my Bachelors in Science and shadowed a variety of healthcare professionals, devouring each new piece of information before I decided to become a Physician Assistant. It was (and continues to be) an honor and a blessing to serve a patient, while working in a field that I love.
Though my path was winding, I feel it gives me a much broader perspective than many of my peers. Growing up in a different country has made me acutely aware that there is more than a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine. I’m always looking for how to combine different approaches to provide the best outcome for a patient.
Approaching medicine as a second career gave me a better insight than I had coming out of high school. I had higher expectations of what medicine should be able to answer for patients and during my time in PA school, I became one of those patients. I suffered an injury that caused a considerable amount of acute pain, followed by chronic pain from which I struggled to find any sort of relief. It was this personal experience that caused me to embark on my own deep dive into integrative medicine - combining conventional and alternative therapies into my protocol to address my health problem. After consulting with various specialists and not getting much direction regarding what to do next, I, fortunately, found a physician who truly listened to me, ordered the appropriate imaging, and helped me identify the root cause of my pain. From there, lifestyle changes including acupuncture, massage, meditation, and various other alternative therapies have provided the relief I was looking for and helped me reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. Thankfully, once I assembled the right cocktail of therapies, my pain decreased rather quickly! I was hooked on Integrative Medicine.
I was so hooked, in fact, that I started seeking out other individuals who shared this approach to medicine. This is how I found the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). Their certification process provides a powerful framework, when coupled with the training at Case Integrative Health, for how to develop treatment plans for any number of complex chronic conditions. (I fill my commute to the office with these lectures).
In addition to my own experience using the integrative medicine approach, another key influence has been helping my husband manage Type 1 Diabetes. While newer medications and technologies help reduce the burden of day-to-day diabetes management, understanding your food choices is instrumental in predicting a blood sugar response. Our native Polish food is delicious, but very carb-heavy, which made daily management of blood sugars harder than necessary. Determined to put the principle of “Food as medicine” into use, we experimented with different ways of eating and quickly learned that a low-carb, whole food diet works best for us. This was challenging at first, but once we noticed differences in the way we felt - better mood, more energy, improved focus, less stress, and most importantly, we were enjoying our time together more - we were determined to continue putting in the effort.
Over time, we have learned how to substitute ingredients to make meals that are both delicious and healthy. For instance, one of my favorite meals from my Polish childhood is golabki. It is cabbage, stuffed with white rice, pork, and spices. Nowadays, I simply swap the white rice for lentils or non-starchy vegetables - equally delicious and it fits our dietary needs!
These kinds of small changes are part of what I look forward to helping my patients achieve. I know that lifestyle changes can be difficult and feel overwhelming, particularly nutritionally, but I can tell you from my firsthand experience, there are many ways to balance enjoyment with your health goals. We can work together to take baby steps, we don’t need to address everything all at once - which can be both overwhelming and discouraging.
This patient empowerment should always be at the core of functional medicine first and foremost, and I can tell you that at Case Integrative Health, it is. I am deeply excited to work alongside practitioners such as Dr. Casey Kelley, whose passion for patient care was immediately evident to me. Integrative medicine is a quickly evolving field and I look forward to working at the forefront, helping patients not only feel better, but live better.
I look forward to meeting each of you in person! I want my patients to know that I am here to listen to you. No one knows your body better than you do, so it’s only natural that you are involved in your own treatment plan. Let’s work together to develop a treatment plan that is as unique and as special as you are. See you soon!