New Year’s Resolutions for Migraine Doctors

Teri Robert @trobert Health Guide
  • Most of us have thought about New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. Did you make any? When I was considering resolutions for myself, it hit me – Who better to suggest New Year’s resolutions for doctors who treat Migraine disease than Migraineurs? So, without further ado, here are some suggested resolutions for our doctors:

    1. Keep in mind that Migraine is a genetic neurological disease. Never let patients get the impression that you think it’s “all in their heads.”

    2. Appreciate patients who educate themselves about Migraine disease and learn from them. Today’s patients have more information available to them than ever before. Don’t be dismissive of information they bring to you. Some patients realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own health and wisely spend time researching. They may actually be able to teach you something. Rather than being defensive, why not resolve to learn from your patients this year?
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    3. Improve the patient education resources offered in your practice. Studies show that educated patients are more compliant and have better outcomes. Encourage your patients to become educated and empowered. Put together a patient education packet with some basic information sheets, a list of recommended books, and a list of recommended Web sites.

    4. Spend some time on the Internet learning about Web sites that are good resources for you and your patients. Then recommend good sites and don’t automatically dismiss information your patients find online. Once you find sites you like and trust, let the people who write those sites know what they’re doing well and if there’s a particular topic you think needs more information.

    5. End each appointment by asking if your patients have any questions or anything else they need to discuss. It’s easy for patients to forget some of the questions they have for you, and it’s easy for you to feel rushed to get to your next patient. Still, if your patients have the opportunity to ask their questions, they’ll be better prepared to handle their Migraines and less likely to have to call your office later with questions. A bit more time spent with patients during their appointments means less time spent later on phone calls.

    6. Take advantage of continuing education opportunities. Especially in such a quickly evolving field, journals, conferences, and other opportunities to increase your knowledge are vital.

    7. Make sure your staff is professional, efficient, kind, and respectful toward your patients. Your staff’s attitude is a direct reflection on you. They stand between you and your patients. It’s essential that they treat your patients as you would expect to be treated if you were the patient.

    8. Listen to your training, experience, and patients; not pharmaceutical company representatives. The newest medications aren’t necessarily the best for all of your patients. Don’t get caught up in the hype over medications the reps want you to prescribe. Their goal is profit; yours is what’s best for your patients.

  • 9. Establish emergency protocols for your patients who need help outside office hours. Migraines don’t respect evenings, weekends, holidays, or vacations. If you or a colleague can’t be available for patients after hours, establish treatment protocols with area emergency rooms and/or urgent care facilities to treat your patients who need assistance. Then give every patient information on how to handle after-hours emergencies.
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    10. Encourage each patient to work with you as a treatment partner. Outline options and make decisions with your patients rather than for them. It’s only natural for patients to work harder on a regimen when they have a hand in developing it. You and the patient will both be more successful.

    It seemed only fair to ask some Migraine specialists what resolutions they would make. I contacted a few and have their resolutions to share with you:

    1. “I resolve to miss fewer secondary causes of migraines and headaches (particularly endocrine underpinnings) in 2007.” from Dr. John Claude Krusz, Dallas. (Secondary causes are other conditions that cause or affect headaches and Migraines.)

    2. “As a doctor I always resolve to remember why I became a doctor....because I like to help people to improve their quality of life, to feel better. How can I do that? Inventing a cure would be great but since I am a clinician I hope to hear my patients and their needs better, hope to be the best advocate I can be for them....and always keep trying.” Dr. Merle Diamond, Chicago.

    3. “Personally I haven't made any formal resolutions-perhaps an informal
    resolution as a Migraineur is avoiding stress from unnecessary
    overcommitment as much as possible. Woody Allen once said that 90% of
    life is just showing up. So perhaps to avoid the activities where they're
    not really essential and you're just showing up.” Dr. Randy Evans, Houston.

    4. Dr. Fred Sheftell in Stamford, Connecticut, offered resolutions for doctors and patients:

      a. Time for yourself
      b. Exercise
      c. Regulate sleep
      d. Maintain headache and Migraine calendars
      e. More play at work and less play at work :-)
      f. Patience

    Patients – Maybe one of our resolutions should be to work as treatment partners with our doctors, and if our doctors don’t work that way, find a new doctor.

    Doctors – I hope this gives you an idea of the patient perspective and helps you work with us as treatment partners.

    Happy 2007 to all!

    • Do you have another resolution for Migraine specialists? Leave a comment below or post it on the Migraine Forums!

Published On: January 18, 2007