What is Ignition Health and Wellness all about?
Hello, my name is Dr. Michael Gotcher, PhD, APRN – CNP, CNS. I am the founder, president, medical director and practitioner of the functional medicine Norman OK clinic, Ignition Health And Wellness. I started Ignition Health And Wellness in 2019. I had a vision that I would be able to help people in a manner that didn’t involve constantly adding more and more prescription medications. I’ve always had that dream to help people in a way where their health would not only get better but would flourish. This vision of healthcare started before I even began my education.
How did Ignition Health and Wellness get started?
Dr. Gotcher’s Story:
“So where did it all begin for this functional medicine Norman OK clinic?”, you say. It began when I was five years old. My great aunt Virginia bought me a Fisher-Price doctor’s bag. This thing was incredible. It had a plastic otoscope that allowed me to look in people’s ears, eyes and throat. There was this very awkward stethoscope that hurt your ears horribly, but it allowed me to hear a person’s heart and lungs. It was fascinating. The stethoscope also allowed for you to scream into it when others were using it causing them to quickly pull it out of their ears. But nonetheless, it was truly fascinating. That kit also had a thermometer. You would stick it in somebody’s mouth and rotate the knob at the end, and it would have a red line that would show you the temperature rising and then a fever. To add to your skills it allowed you to take blood pressure readings. I would stick the plastic blood pressure cuff on somebody’s wrist and squeeze the bulb. As the bulb was depressed, a dial would spin around on the blood pressure cuff giving you a dizzy reading, but it was great!
The next thing that was in the kit was a big plastic box labeled Band-Aid, and in that box was a C shaped bracelet like piece of plastic that had the texture and look of a Band-Aid. I truly believed you could apply this Band-Aid and heal anything! I felt that I was providing amazing care for all my “patients”. I would go around to everyone who would let me do all of these procedures. If somebody got hurt, I ran over to them with my medical kit. I would quickly check their temperature, check their blood pressure, listen to their heart, look in their eyes, examine their ears, have them say ”ah” so I could see their throat, and then listen to their lungs. If I felt they needed further treatment, I would grab the bandage out of the bag and put it on their extremity.
This desire and passion for caring for people continued to expand in my life. Throughout early teen years, I would figure out ways to help people with their medical needs. Though at the time, I did not realize that I was helping. It was just something inside me that told me to do it. My junior year of high school I really started looking into the medical field as a career. Towards the end of my junior year, I got a job working at a nursing home. The nursing home put me through training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. I was finally in the medical field. They gave me scrubs to wear. They allowed me to care for patients with various medical problems. Although it was not the most glamorous job, I felt like I was on top of the world because I was finally getting closer to the career I desired in life.
Once in the nursing home, I began to seek a way to expand my knowledge and abilities. I took extra courses to become a Certified Medication Aide. This allowed me to understand how medications worked and to respond to people’s needs in a new way which opened up more job opportunities in the medical field. I began to work in various nursing homes doing nurse and medication aide work. I also was hired on by a staffing agency that allowed me to work in the hospitals in various areas. I sought any opportunity available to expand my knowledge of all aspects of healthcare; this began even before I completed high school.
After high school, I was accepted into a practical nursing program. This was a year-long program that trained me to become a nurse! I learned about diseases and disease processes, and what kind of medications helped or worsened conditions. My mind began to crave more and more knowledge. In 1997 after I graduated practical nursing school, I sought further education.
I began college in the fall of 1997. This is also the same year I began to work as a licensed practical nurse, but we will get into this later. College was a new experience for me. It was totally different than what I expected. I was planning on going into college and immediately learning about medicine. College is a great avenue to pursue one’s education, but you’re required to jump through certain hoops before you even get to your desired field of study. I was quite discouraged when I started college because I had to take all these classes which I had very little interest in. Classes like english, history, civics, government, arts, sociology just to name a few. Looking back I can see why they might want one to take courses that made them more well-rounded. However, my focus is not on the areas of college I didn’t like. Let’s talk about the areas I do like. When I finally made it to Nursing school At the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, I was overwhelmed and elated. After years of taking courses that did not directly provide me with medical information, I finally made it! This was the beginning of the functional medicine Norman OK clinic that would become known as Ignition Health and Wellness.
I had dreamed for many years of making it to the Health Sciences Center. Was it everything I expected? Absolutely! I learned about similar diseases that I learned in my practical nursing program, but we went more in depth into why things happen to the human body and what the best response is of any nurse or doctor. We learn to anticipate a patient’s response to disease, treatments and changes. We learned how doing a thorough assessment of your patient could save their life. A quick response could mean a patient living a healthy and long life versus impending doom and death. While in nursing school, we also had the opportunity to do clinical rotations. Many of the rotations were required, but we also had the option to explore areas that we might have deeper interest in. At the time I was working in surgery and had also worked in the emergency room. Although I had worked in almost every area of the hospital so I could get experience, the emergency room and surgery were my two favorite areas in medicine. I decided to focus on seeking graduate school that would allow me to pursue emergency medicine. Funny that I ended up starting a functional medicine Norman OK instead of having a life long career in emergency medicine. Read on to see how I transitioned.
After completing my bachelors in nursing, I decided to start graduate nursing school. Many of my classmates who continued on in grad school sought degrees in nursing education, nursing administration, healthcare administration, public health or family nurse practitioner. I knew I wanted to work in the emergency room so I directed my attention at the acute clinical nurse specialist program. This program will allow me to practice medicine in the emergency room or any other acute care setting in the hospital. Again, as with undergraduate degrees, I had to take some courses that did not interest me to get to my goal. I had to take courses on nursing theory, research, and other areas that did not directly relate to working in the hospital. I did find, however, many of those courses did help me in understanding the way health care is achieved; and I’m not talking about a patient’s health, but the manner in which the system operates, i.e. a hospital or a school for healthcare professionals.
After completing the introductory courses for graduate nursing and exploring courses in the college of public health with a focus in epidemiology, I finally got to my advanced practice program. I informed my program Director that I wanted to pursue a career in emergency medicine. We came up with a plan, but I did not fully stick with that. I asked for extra classroom work and extra clinical hours so I could do a double board certification. You see, I love to learn. I began to do double classroom work and acute and critical care pediatric and acute and critical care adult advanced nursing practice. My program and the directors of the program allowed me to participate in triple clinical hours to gain more practice experience as well. I worked at various hospitals in the metro training in pediatric emergency medicine, hospital medicine and critical care. I got to train with some amazing doctors and nurses. I also was able to train in adult acute, critical care and emergency medicine. Though I did not love the idea of working in critical care or hospital medicine, the education and training that I received provided me with the knowledge I needed to better care for patients as they begin their journey in the emergency department. I realized quickly that this is what practicing medicine was about, obtaining a well-rounded education that gave you frequent contact with various situations, conditions and patients. This was everything I had ever dreamed of. In the summer of 2007, after many years of sleepless nights, long hours in the library, finger cramps from typing so many papers, studying until my eyes felt like they were going to pop out, and getting headaches from too much caffeine, I was finally done with graduate school! I passed!
Remember when I said I thought I was done, I was wrong. After graduating from the Masters program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, College of nursing, I realized to practice in the area and manner that I wanted, I would need to go back to school. For a month I searched various post graduate programs for family nurse practitioners. One day I found a program that was perfectly fitting for me. This was a post graduate family nurse practitioner program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I was a little concerned about travel, however, that concern was quickly squished. The University of Massachusetts Boston is set up for students to complete the program in their own state. Agreements had to be made with clinical preceptors, clinical sites and UMass. Once these agreements were made the program allowed you to move forward with your advanced education. I thought that the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center College of nursing advanced practice program was a tough program, that is, until I started this program. This was just under a year and a half of intense advanced practice training. At this time I was working more than full-time, as usual, and doing over full-time at school. With the previous program I was busy all the time., This program was no different, but there was a lot more classroom participation since students from around the country had to connect online to get through the program. Nevertheless, I loved it! I worked hard in the program for my family and I worked hard outside the program to Provide for my family’s financial and physical needs. Alas, I completed the program! It was the Summer of 2009. I had an idea of starting functional medicine Norman OK but felt like I needed more training to better serve my patients.
You would think that once a person reaches the pinnacle of their career they would be done with school. Not so in my case. In 2015, I was given another opportunity to further my education. I started not one, but two PhD programs. One program was Chatsworth College of Nutritional Sciences and natural medicine. In that program I would focus on nutritional sciences and Naturopathic medicine. The other program was through Kingdom College Of Natural Health. In that program I studied natural medicine and functional medicine. These were very classroom and scholarly educational pathways. I would study multiple books for several hours every morning and night during these programs. I would also have twice weekly in class education with the Chatworth program. It was a very exhausting several years. I was so thankful that my wife supported me through all this. So many times I thought she’s gonna tell me to just stop. But she always encouraged me to continue on. Many times throughout the programs the work became overwhelming. So much to learn and so little time throughout the day. If I can only have 24 more hours per day I would be fine I thought to myself. Sometimes, God is there pushing you along. He’s telling you to keep going. Finish strong. I think there were several times throughout these years that I wanted to ignore him but I could not. His voice was loud. In 2019, I finally finished both programs. I can tell you throughout my education, I truly never felt that I was done until this moment. Previous times I thought I was done but something still nagged inside my heart telling me to continue.
After completing all of my graduate and postgraduate coursework, I went on to acquire more in depth training in areas of functional medicine to assist my patients in my functional medicine Norman OK clinic, including IV Therapy and hormone replacement therapy. To gain more knowledge in functional medicine, I attended courses with the Institute of functional medicine. It’s funny how you always seem like you know all the information possible about a subject until you learn that subject from a different angle. This was also the case with my advanced hormone therapy training through The Academy of Preventative and Innovative Medicine by Worldlink medical. There, with leadership of Dr. Neal Rouzier, I was trained in the most advanced and up-to-date evidence based bio identical hormone replacement therapy. I thought I knew about hormone replacement therapy until I’m at Dr. Rouzier. He led me through areas of hormone replacement therapy that I had never seen or read about. During that same time I also went through the American Academy for anti-aging medicine To get further training in advanced IV therapy. This included, but not limited to, IV vitamin therapy and chelation therapy.
Recently, I went through training to become a certified practitioner with the SHAPE ReClaimed program. This program allows me to help patients in getting to a healthier weight, lifestyle, and to reach their health goals. This program is a very guided program that allows the patient and the practitioner to work closely together in order to avoid many other pitfalls that are seen with various lifestyle, diet, health and weight loss programs. This program is centered around a homeopathic foundation.
Though required in the hospital but not the clinic, I continuously learn and update myself annually on advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I maintain certifications in these areas of study for my patients.
I know. I know. I know. I said I was done with education after I finished my doctorate degrees. The thing is, however, healthcare is one of those fields that you can never stop learning. If you stop learning you should probably quit practicing medicine. Healthcare is forever changing. Sometimes things that worked a week ago become detrimental to the health of the following week. You have to keep up with the times. So I will forever continue learning. I will probably never go through a formal graduate education program again, but I will always continue learning and seeking new information. I feel that is a calling and passion that God has put into my heart for my patients. God is giving me love for my patients and to show that love I will continue learning for you.
I forgot to tell you about one or two areas of study that I constantly pursue. I studied woodworking for two years. I love woodworking. It is something I’ve always been passionate about. The smell of the wood and the results to come of a rough and simple piece of material. The beauty that can come out of ugliness at times. Even though woodworking’s been done for years and I have been doing woodworking for years there always seems to be something that I can learn or I can do differently or better.
I also have a passion for photography and videography. Throughout my teen years I would carry around a film camera and take pictures of anyone and anything I could. I developed hundreds of rolls in my teen years. And I loved photography. I carried this desire into my adult years. However, I never felt like I was at my best. I felt like I could learn and do more with photography. For this reason I decided to enroll in an advanced photography program. I Was formally educated through the New York Institute of photography. In this program I went through their professional photographer program.
I think at times it’s hard to teach passion, however, getting educated in something you are interested in can definitely help fan the flames of one’s interest. I say this to encourage the few reading this to pursue your passions through learning and training. You don’t need college in most cases. You can get so much out of books, magazines, YouTube or mentors just to name a few. But you must take action. Never give up on your dreams. Listen to what God is telling you to pursue. He speaks much louder than our selfish voice. We just need to focus our attention on him and ask, what do you want us to do? When I focused, he told me to start a functional medicine Norman OK clinic and here we are!