My favorite color is orange, but it didn’t factor into the decision making about being a physician – for those of you who were deep in wonder. Though I do feel that my personality and career goals helped direct me to the field. Why did I pick neurology and specifically, headache medicine? In a nutshell, it is fascinating and there is a lot of good to be done, especially given that the headache and facial pain population is underserved with a paucity of doctors who have specific training in this area.
Here is the long story. When sprouting student-doctors go to medical school, they get about 2 years of rotations through most of the different medical specialties. I remember rotating through general medicine and realizing that headache was a considerable complaint, but that often there wasn’t time to address it. When rotating through neurology clinic, I realized that there were some considerably straight forward things patients could do to decrease headache burden. However, this required counseling and education from provider to patient, and ultimately follow through. There is immense opportunity to improve quality, not necessarily quantity, of life.
Furthermore, we don’t know nearly enough about headache and facial pain. In picking research projects to work on during that time, I also found out that there was plenty of work to be done and opportunities to participate in studies to provide enlightenment in the field. More research = potentially more treatments = better outcomes for patients, as the “headache and facial pain tool box” is a bit shabby at times.
What an exciting time to get into a field that allowed me to build relationships with my patients, possibly improve their quality of life, study the brain and the pathophysiology (mechanisms) behind one of the most disabling neurological conditions! Yep, I was sold. Step 1: Finish Medical School, Step 2: Neurology Residency, Step 3: Headache Medicine Fellowship.