Why Headache Medicine?

Updated: Mar 6

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering which specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Huma Sheikh chose headache medicine, as well as an introduction to the bread and butter of the field- migraine.

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One of my classes in college was about a career in medicine and I ended up shadowing a dermatologist in his office. This is what first peaked my interest. I took the required pre-med courses and applied to a number of medical schools, ending up at one close to home. During medical school, I went through all of the rotations during third year still unsure about which specialty to apply to.

My first rotation in fourth year was neurology on the stroke wards. I was struck by a young 5 year old girl who had choked on an olive and was now on a ventilator. The discussions with the family really pulled me towards this field.

Why did I decide to specialize in headache medicine?

During neurology residency, we would have a weekly outpatient clinic for the residents.  During that time, the residents would pick up a patient randomly from the stack of patients waiting. 

I remember that everyone would groan when they picked up a patient with a diagnosis of "headache," or "migraine."

The feeling in the clinic was that these patients were just whining or complaining.  Most of these patients were young women like myself.  I found myself taking on many of these patients because I felt that needed someone who would be willing to sit and listen to them without any preconceived notions about why they were there.  This is what first peaked my interest in "headache medicine."