Dr. Michele Nickels: Sharing the Journey Toward Good Health
Dec 30, 2013 10:52AM
● By Sheila Julson
Dr. Michele Nickels
Dr. Michele Nickels, a Greendale native, began her career in health care during college as a nursing assistant at Gundersen Health Systems, in La Crosse. After realizing that many medications ultimately did not help patients get well, Nickels wanted to find a way to help people truly improve their health by getting to the underlying cause of their symptoms. The search led her on a journey to become a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist and the founder of Integrative Family Wellness Center, in Brookfield.
Nickels has had a lifelong interest in wellness. She attended the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis on premedical studies. After graduating in 1997, Nickels was eager to continue her medical education and considered becoming an osteopathic doctor before deciding to pursue chiropractic training. She was accepted at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, but four months before she was to begin studies, her brother, Dr. Ryan Ferchoff, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Hawaii, sparked her interest in holistic healing and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Tempe, Arizona.
“It was everything I was hoping for,” says Nickels, who graduated from the school in 2001 with a degree in naturopathic family practice. “We were trained in traditional medicine and learned about all of the naturopathic therapies. We studied chiropractic. All of these were wrapped into the basis of a primary care physician.”
In 2002, Nickels returned to Wisconsin and created the first naturopathic medical residency in the state, sponsored by Standard Process, a whole-food supplements company, in Palmyra, and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Portland, Oregon.
The residency gave her the opportunity to train with medical doctors in Wisconsin while cross-training them in naturopathic and holistic therapies. According to Nickels, she is one of only a few naturopathic doctors in Wisconsin that has graduated from a four-year naturopathic medical school and completed a family practice medical residency.
In 2008, Nickels founded Integrative Family Wellness Center. The clinic treats people of all ages, with an emphasis on family practice. It also provides services and alternative therapies that address women’s health, cancer, autism, pain, endocrine disorders, digestive ailments and weight management. Alternative approaches may incorporate herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, IV therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, Photo Genius (an energy-medicine instrument) and the ONAMED Biofeedback System, which analyzes and pinpoints problem areas. “Patients got good results, and we grew from word of mouth,” Nickels shares. “There’s definitely a need for this medicine.”
The staff of Integrative Family Wellness Center includes medical doctors, registered nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical nutritionists, massage therapists, aestheticians and chiropractic doctors. Nickels also practices at Cedarburg Family Wellness Center, in Cedarburg, alongside Janice Alexander, M.D., a board-certified doctor of family practice, obstetrics and gynecology. In September 2013, Nickels acquired Progressive Beginnings Family Wellness Center, in Sheboygan, to expand her treatment strategies with children experiencing developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
Nickels finds great rewards in educating patients and health professionals about naturopathic medicine. She shares her experience and knowledge not only with her patients and through partnerships with other doctors, but through media outlets such as Milwaukee’s Oldies 95.7 FM, where she has been a guest on the “Ask the Expert” segment. “I know I have done my job when I tell my patients that I will see them in a year. I know I have figured out why they were ill, have developed successful treatments and have educated them enough for them to maintain good health.”
Integrative Family Wellness Center is located at 16535 W. Bluemound Rd., Ste. 222, in Brookfield. For more information, call 262-754-4910 or visit IFWCenter.com. Cedarburg Family Wellness Center is located at W62 N225 Washington Ave., in Cedarburg. For more information, call 262-3761150 or visit CBFWCenter.com. Progressive Beginnings Family Wellness Center is located at 2131 S. Business Dr., in Sheboygan. For more information, call 920-803-1617 or visit ProgressiveBeginnings.net.