Evaluating Your Migraine Doctor/Patient Relationship – Looking for the Right Fit
It never hurts to evaluate your patient/doctor relationship to ensure that it’s working for you. After all, if the relationship becomes dysfunctional, we may feel unheard, powerless, judged, devalued, and voiceless in our own care. It can be an awful dynamic on top of an already painful disease.
Here are some ways to help assess whether or not you have the right fit.
Does the practice have time and space?
Many times patients are forced to wait for extended times before being seen. This is especially difficult for migraineurs who struggle with noisy waiting rooms, bright lighting and strong smells in public places. When you are evaluating your relationship with a doctor, consider the waiting room space. Pay attention to the wait time. If the practice is a specialty migraine clinic, the waiting room should be tailor-made for people with migraines. The lights are kept low, there is signage asking people not to wear scented products, and it’s understood that volume is kept to a minimum.
Administrative and nursing staff responsiveness
Migraineurs will often need to communicate with their doctors in between appointments regarding their care. Whether it’s to report a change in pain pattern, to ask a question, or to request a medication refill, it’s important to evaluate how each practice operates “behind the scenes.” Is the front staff responsive? Are the nurses helpful and reasonably accessible? These practices are often extremely busy, so it’s important to be reasonable with expectations. Still, assessing this part of the practice is an important part of evaluating a good fit.
Desperately seeking a partnership
It is important to find a doctor who truly listens to and values your input and experience. As you evaluate a doctor and practice, ask yourself some key questions:
- Are you given adequate time with the doctor?
- Is there time to explore all of your questions?
- Do you feel heard? Validated? Blamed? Rushed? Listen to your gut.
General practitioner, nurse practitioner, neurologist or migraine specialist?
There are many types of medical professionals who treat migraine, including general practitioners, nurse practitioners, emergency department doctors, and neurologists, to name a few. However, the medical professionals who are most well-equipped to handle the complex neurological disease that is migraine are called “migraine specialists.” These people have received an additional year of specialized training in the subject of migraine and many of them solely see people living with migraine disease. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of these specialists and it can therefore be difficult to find one. That said, it is worth a search to see if there is one near you.
Finding and creating a functional relationship with a migraine specialist can be challenging and time consuming but it is worthwhile. These relationships are crucial and can last for decades. If the balance is good, you will be in good hands and feel like you have someone on your team looking out for you.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?