Meet Sandra Christensen
MSN, ARNP, FNP-BC, FOMA
I have specialized in obesity medicine since 2005 and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
From the moment I saw my first weight management patient, I knew that I had a found a specialty in which I could truly make a positive difference in the health of my patients. As I dove into the science and practiced the art of obesity treatment, my passion grew. I delighted in seeing my patients’ health improve and witnessed them engaging in life with renewed vitality. This was the reason I became a nurse practitioner in the first place!
At the same time, I noticed that many of my patients were missing their health screenings and weren’t seeking care with other clinicians for health issues that needed attention. When I inquired, they shared stories of biased interactions with their clinicians that left them feeling blamed and shamed. Rather than risk another painful encounter, they avoided appointments, even when they knew they needed them.
It was then that I decided that I needed to go further upstream. If I truly wanted to improve the lives of those with obesity, I needed to educate clinicians about the science of obesity treatment and the importance of creating respectful partnerships. Thus, my commitment to leading, speaking, writing, and mentoring was born.
My Professional Roles:
In 2009, I founded Integrative Medical Weight Management with the goal of providing comprehensive evidence-based treatment in a healing, inspiring setting.
My clinical practice is the heart and soul of my dedication to obesity treatment. It is there that I feel most alive. My day-to-day interactions with my patients fuel me to learn more about the science so that I can provide them with the most effective, up-to-date treatment available. I share the science with them, and they tell me about their triumphs and challenges on the journey to better health.
My greatest learning has come from listening to my patients’ stories about what it’s like to live with the effects of excess weight and the ways in which their lives improve as they lose weight and gain health.Work with me
Obesity Medicine Association
I have been an active member of the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) since 2005 and currently serve as a Trustee on the OMA Board of Trustees. OMA is an international professional association of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers that provides the finest clinical education from the leading experts in the field and advocates for access to evidence-based care. Membership is rapidly growing as more clinicians become aware of the need to address this chronic health issue and seek education.
Leadership & Service
My OMA service includes:
- Trustee on the OMA Board of Trustees
- Speaker – Speakers Bureau, conferences, webinars
- Contributing author of the OMA Obesity Algorithm
- Planning & overview of clinical education
- Committee leadership
Awards & Recognitions
- Named a fellow of OMA (FOMA) in 2016 for my dedication and commitment to the clinical treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases
- Recipient of the Dr. Raymond E. Dietz Meritorious Service Award in 2018
- Recipient of the Committee Leadership Award for my role in creating the OMA Speakers Bureau in 2019
Washington Obesity Society
I am a founding member of the Washington Obesity Society (WOS), which is an organization of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers in Washington state. Our mission is to build a network of passionate clinicians who are committed to obesity education, reducing weight bias, and advocating for access to evidence-based treatment.
The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is a national professional organization of clinical researchers and medical professionals who are committed to the study and treatment of obesity. TOS publishes the monthly journal, Obesity, which provides me with the latest research in the field of obesity medicine.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- Conference speaker
- Faculty, speaker, and subject matter expert for obesity education programs
I am passionate about educating clinicians about the evidence-based treatment of obesity and am a speaker at national, state, and local conferences and webinars. I am a frequent presenter for the following organizations:
- Obesity Medicine Association
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- American Academy of Physician Assistants
I’m available for speaking opportunities and interviews.Get in Touch
Writing is another avenue through which I teach clinicians about obesity and how to address it with their patients in an informed, respectful manner. In addition to writing a book, I have authored several professional articles, including peer-reviewed articles, and am a contributing author of the OMA Obesity Algorithm.
A Clinician’s Guide to Discussing Obesity with Patients, published in April 2021 by Springer Nature
This book educates clinicians about how to discuss weight and obesity with knowledge and compassion. It provides them with evidence-based knowledge, as well as practical step-by-step guidance for initiating respectful, productive conversations about weight and health. Most healthcare providers did not learn about obesity or how to talk about it in their clinical education programs and either avoid the topic or unknowingly provide incorrect information. My hope is that this book will inspire them to learn more about obesity and that it will provide them with the tools they need to lead their patients to better health.Learn More and Buy Here
Obesity Medicine Association Obesity Algorithm
Since 2019 I have been a contributing author of the OMA Obesity Algorithm, which is updated annually. This publication is a comprehensive evidence-based educational tool that translates the current obesity science and clinical expertise of obesity specialists with the goal of facilitating and improving the clinical management of patients with pre-obesity and obesity.
Over the years I have had the honor of mentoring clinicians who are new to obesity medicine. From the moment of our first contact, they have impressed me with their passion and commitment to treating obesity. Some have become leaders in the obesity field and are not only improving the health of their patients, they are teaching and leading other clinicians, who are following their lead and doing the same. Each one of them is sending out roots that continue to branch out, building a solid foundation for further growth. Their inspiring brilliance deepens my conviction to mentor as many clinicians as possible.
Education & Professional Credentials
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Seattle Pacific University
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), University of Washington
- Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
- Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine from the Obesity Medicine Association
- Obesity Medicine Association
- Washington Obesity Society
- The Obesity Society
- Obesity Action Coalition
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- ARNPS United of Washington State
- Sigma Theta Tau—The Honor Society of Nursing
Continuing Medical Education
My commitment to excellence includes regularly attending professional education conferences and webinars on obesity and other related topics such as cardio-metabolic health, endocrinology, psychology, addiction, eating disorders, and health coaching.
Previous Professional Experience
Prior to specializing in obesity medicine, I worked as a nurse practitioner and registered nurse in the areas of women’s & reproductive health, maternal-infant health, and pediatrics.
My Story Begins
A few days after my thirtieth birthday I was told I had cancer. As I lay in the hospital bed prior to surgery, scared and wondering if I’d live to see my three small children grow up, I vowed to myself that I would make my health my top priority. I never wanted to end up back in that bed again. That was the day that I began my whole-hearted journey of healthy living.
Five years later, with my health restored and a passion to inspire others to live healthfully, I returned to school to become a nurse practitioner.
After graduation I went to work in a women’s health clinic. It was exciting to put my vision and knowledge into action.
After we had dealt with their health concerns, some would bravely ask if I had any suggestions about how they could lose weight. I realized that despite my excellent education, I had never been taught anything about this important health issue.
“Eat less, move more,” I recited, not knowing any better. “It’s about burning more calories than you consume.”
They looked back at me with a frustration in their eyes that said, “You just don’t get it.” The gap between what they needed and what I had to offer was enormous.
Finding My Way
Feeling frustrated and unhappy with the setting in which I was practicing, I searched for a new opportunity. When I read the job description for the position at the weight management clinic, I applied immediately. From the moment I set foot in the door I knew I’d found my home.
It was a comprehensive, evidence-based, compassionate approach to weight management. As I learned the various interconnections among health issues and emotions and weight from my mentor, things began to make more sense. I was better able to understand what was really going on, both metabolically and emotionally for each person. As my knowledge accumulated, so did my appreciation for the complexities involved.
“You will find that some patients cry, especially during the first visit. It’s a good sign. It means we’ve touched on something important,” he explained. “We want to honor it and learn from it.”
His gentle, caring ways fostered a respect for the power of emotion that lives on in me today.
After the retirement of my mentor and a program that drifted from its original ideals, I set off to create something truly healing and founded Integrative Medical Weight Management.
I created a clinic setting that is designed to inspire health. The warm wall colors hug the rooms, highlighting the plants and the artwork. It is a place for people to begin their journey towards health. And it’s quite the contrast from the stark while walls and institutional feel of every other “health” clinic I’ve worked in.
Start your journey with Sandra Christensen today
“I have lost approximately 43 pounds and have gone from size 14/16 to size 8. I feel so much healthier and have much more energy. The thing I like most about this journey is that it is sustainable. While I’ve significantly changed my eating habits, I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. It truly is a lifestyle change, not a “diet”.”
Discover the 5 Keys to Successful Weight Management in my free e-book