Dr Chris Millar (1954–2014) was an integrative GP who set up his own practice in Ballarat in 2005 and was a much-loved member of the Ballarat community. Chris participated in the acnem Foundations course and was a keen acnem supporter. Unfortunately, Chris died suddenly of a heart attack in 2014. His family and friends established the Chris Millar Foundation in his honour in 2015, with money coming from donations made at Chris’s memorial and fundraising events.
In the last couple of years, the Chris Millar Foundation has partnered with acnem, and is pleased to announce that in 2022, they will offer two scholarships for Australian GP registrars to undertake the Foundations course (parts 1 & 2), chosen via an application process.
A massive congratulations to our scholarship recipient from July 2022 – Dr Sonia Foley!
Dr Sonia Foley is currently working at Avalon Wholistic Medical and Dental Centre, where she uses a wholistic approach to patient care. Sonia has always had a passion for wellness, and it was the driving force for her entry into medicine. Her main career interest has been in the preventative branch of medicine called Lifestyle Medicine which includes the research, prevention and treatment of disorders caused by lifestyle factors such as nutrition, lack of exercise, and chronic stress. It has been found that addressing these factors helps improve quality of life in all patients including those with ailments such as obesity, cancer, and diabetes. She has a passion for prevention and reversal of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, using evidence-based lifestyle interventions where possible.
In support of this interest, Sonia has completed the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies/eCornell Plant based Nutrition Certificate and has also been certified by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (IBLM) after being trained in a comprehensive Lifestyle Medicine approach to chronic disease management and care. She was in the first Australasian cohort of doctors to sit the inaugural international examination in Lifestyle Medicine.
Patient-centred care is important to Sonia, and she is a firm believer that patient education is imperative to empower patients to make the best decision for themselves in their healthcare. She respects patient needs and rights to make health decisions and choices based on their preferences. She also encourages collaboration where patients are actively involved during the planning of care and treatment for their most satisfying health outcome.
In her own life Sonia is committed to wholistic lifestyle medicine. She embraces a whole foods plant based diet and is usually up early swimming laps before starting her workday.
It is a great honour to be awarded the Chris Millar Foundation for integrative medicine scholarship to study the acnem Foundations of NEM course. I have always had a passion for wellness and I have studied and incorporated Lifestyle Medicine into my practice as a GP registrar. More recently, Dr Lorna Scott (a fellow of acnem), has been mentoring integrative medicine and it was suggested that the acnem Foundations of NEM course would be very beneficial. When I saw the Chris Millar Foundation scholarship for the acnem Foundations of NEM course the timing could not have been more perfect! I read up on Dr Chris Millar and saw a beloved doctor who influenced so many people with his passion for integrative medicine particularly with regards to mental health. In my practice, especially during these past few years with COVID, I have seen an increased need for mental health which has impacted heavily in our local community and around Australia.
Since spending time with an integrative doctor on an extended skills placement in 2016, I have been fascinated with biochemical pathways, including methylation and pyrroles. The first consultation I sat in on, the patient related her debilitating symptoms (including depression) and subsequent cure using lifestyle and supplements only. She gave her testimony how this integrative doctor had saved her life and turned it around with his integrative approach after diagnosing her with pyrrole disorder. Her deep gratitude towards this integrative doctor impacted me greatly. It made me realise just how important this work is and it has been my great desire to be able to do the same. Since the acnem Foundations of NEM course covers biochemical pathways, methylation and pyrroles, with the award of the Chris Millar Foundation for integrative medicine scholarship I will now have formal training in this area. It is my intention to honour the benefactor by continuing in this work of mental health with an integrative wholistic approach. In addition, over my time in general practice, I have noticed a great need for an integrative approach to many other health conditions such as gut health, fertility, menopause, migraine, auto-immune diseases, pain and other chronic conditions. Therefore, I’m eagerly looking forward to increase my knowledge in all areas covered by the Foundations of NEM course, including the gastrointestinal system and the microbiome, immune function and women’s health, so that I can deliver optimal wholistic care to my patients and long-term encourage an integrative, wholistic approach to the next generation of upcoming doctors.