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Expert Perspectives on the Interdisciplinary Management of Migraine - Episode 7

Role of Midlevel Staff in Migraine Management

Dr Williams talks about the role NP/PA play in treating patients with migraines.

Kita Williams, MD: I can see nurse practitioners and physician assistants helping to improve the treatment of patients who are experiencing migraines by first recognizing that the migraine headache is often underdiagnosed. It is often undertreated, and the affected individual is struggling to cope with [its] effects. They will talk to the nurse practitioner after they’ve seen their neurologist or their primary care physician. That nurse practitioner is going to provide follow-up care for them. They will hear about what this patient is experiencing daily, the adverse effects of the medication, and the choices the patient is having to make before taking the medication. If it’s causing drowsiness, they’re having to make a decision between staying at work and being alert vs going home. The care given by the nurse practitioner, especially in the primary care setting, is important because this is where they’re going to appear first. It’s important for the nurse practitioner to recognize that this patient has a migraine headache. Anytime we see the primary care end is adequately educated on how to spot a migraine, we see fewer referrals to neurology departments, more migraine-free days per month because they’re well educated on the front end, and fewer visits to the emergency department. I want to state the importance of them being on that front line, recognizing that migraine or when the patient begins to speak about their symptoms, and eliciting certain responses by asking the right questions regarding what the patient is experiencing.

Transcript Edited for Clarity