Stephen Devries, MD
I am a preventive cardiologist and proud graduate of that infamous UACIM Fellowship Class of 2005! What a great group of people, many of whom I keep in touch with to this day.
My interest in prevention was piqued early on when I was the director of the outpatient cardiology center at the University of Illinois. We kept seeing patients in a revolving door of procedures, patched up in the short term only to return time and again with more of the same. I began to wonder why we couldn’t be as specialized in preventing crises as we were in bailing people out from them. Around that time, I signed up for the UACIM fellowship, an experience that was an intellectual awakening to a much more expansive view of healing-and a fantastic springboard for what was to come next.
I later moved over to Northwestern where I set up an integrative preventive clinic in the Division of Cardiology at Northwestern. It was an unusual type of practice, primarily due to the strong focus on nutrition and lifestyle. I prescribed all of the guideline-based meds as needed, but worked with patients so that they were needed less often! I was very busy, with a 9-month wait list, when an incredible offer came along to start a new educational nonprofit, one that became the Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology. I have continued on at Northwestern as Associate Professor of Medicine, but my primary role has transitioned to the Gaples Institute.
The mission of the Gaples Institute is to make nutrition and lifestyle a much higher priority in all of medicine. We provide no clinical service and sell no health products-we’re a nonprofit entirely focused on education and advocacy to put nutrition and lifestyle higher on the radar in healthcare.
On the educational front, we developed a condensed interactive online nutrition course for health care professionals-our nutrition course was just shortlisted in the international Reimagine Education conference sponsored by Wharton/University of Pennsylvania. In addition, we conduct live CME nutrition science/hands-on cooking conferences in Chicago for health professionals. We are also involved in community education, with the goal of enhancing awareness of integrative approaches and encouraging patients to expect more from their health care provider than pills and procedures.
On the advocacy side, the Gaples Institute is working with accreditation and board exam groups to add a requirement for nutrition education to physician training programs and to include more nutrition questions on board exams. And we’re beginning to make progress!
Now more than a decade since I have finished the fellowship, I feel so fortunate to be able to continue to work with Andy, Victoria, and former dean Jim Dalen-my treasured mentors, colleagues, and friends-in addition to so many of the wonderful faculty and staff at UACIM. Joint projects include the Weil series book, Integrative Cardiology, position papers on nutrition education, involvement in cardiology fellowship dialogues and the planning committee for the spectacular annual Nutrition and Health Conference.
I’m attracted to hearts, and the UACIM fellowship and alumnus journey continues to be a big-hearted experience for which I will always be grateful.