Debbie Sanstad Scholarship


In memory of longtime Institute for Functional Medicine team member Debbie Sanstad, IFM is awarding an annual scholarship that covers the cost of all coursework in IFM’s Certification Program (IFMCP). The scholarship is intended for clinicians all around the globe, however every other year the award rotates between US domestic clinicians and clinicians living outside of the US. In 2025, the scholarship will be awarded to a clinician practicing with the US and are at the beginning of the IFM certification.

Honoring Its Namesake

Debbie Sanstad dedicated 12 years of her life to helping to build IFM and expand the role of functional medicine in health care. She found great benefit in utilizing functional medicine in her own personal health journey and valued supporting clinicians along their own paths to functional medicine. Debbie loved attending IFM programs in person to connect with attendees and the community. It is this genuine investment in the functional medicine community that would have made Debbie so proud of this effort in her honor to support the next generation of functional medicine practitioners. It is IFM’s wish that awarding this scholarship annually to an individual who is starting out on their path to IFM certification will provide enduring impact in Debbie’s name and help support our mission of the widespread adoption of functional medicine. This is just as Debbie would have wanted.

Debbie Sanstad Scholarship Details:

Who is this award for? 

  • In 2025, the scholarship will be awarded to a clinician living and practicing outside of the United States.
  • Clinicians who are at the beginning of the IFM Certification Pathway 

Total Awards Given Annually: 1  

What the award includes:  

  • Cost of all uncompleted IFM Certification Pathway programs (AFMCP and 6 APMs) 
  • IFMCP Review Course Fee 
  • Annual International Conference (the year the scholarship is awarded)  
  • IFMCP Application Fee   

What the award does NOT include:  

  • Any additional CME costs 
  • Travel expenses to IFM’s in-person Annual International Conference 
  • IFM Membership 
  • IFMCP Case Fee and Case Remediation Fees 
  • IFMCP Written Test Fee 
Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for the Debbie Sanstad Scholarship, applicants: 


We are no longer accepting 2024 Debbie Sanstad scholarship applications. 

If you applied, please refer to your confirmation email on the expected date you will hear back from our scholarship team. In the meantime, please reach out to with any questions.



It is an honor to have this scholarship in my mother’s name. She was always a diligent and hard-working employee who thrived on being with a wonderful team of people at IFM. We hope the recipient of this scholarship will remember to work hard, find compassion for patients, and spur not only themselves but also peers toward embodying a holistic health lifestyle.

- Nikki Groth
Debbie Sanstad's Daughter

Debbie’s Functional Medicine Story

Longtime Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) team member Debbie Sanstad was a genuine person who positively impacted everyone she encountered and who earnestly dedicated her working hours to advancing IFM’s mission. Debbie learned a lot about functional medicine through her time at IFM and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, in addition to conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Debbie learned how to incorporate functional medicine approaches to her cancer, and later went into remission.

In January of 2019, Debbie found out that she had advanced metastatic bone cancer. Debbie again incorporated functional medicine into her treatment. Thanks to her optimism and determination, Debbie was able to spend twice as long with family and friends than would normally be expected. In February of 2020, Debbie passed away peacefully in her sleep. Her family strongly believes it was functional medicine and the related conscious choices that graciously allowed them an additional four years with her. It is IFM’s honor to be able to keep her memory alive while supporting future functional medicine practitioners and the widespread adoption of functional medicine.

Please email with questions.

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