Practitioners Who Care for Patients with Migraine Diseases and Headache Disorders Should Review Updated Qualifications and Register by Feb. 23

The National Headache Foundation (NHF) announced its Spring certification exam for its Certificate of Added Qualification in Headache Medicine (AQH) program. The deadline for applying to NHF to take the certification exam is Feb. 23, and the Spring exam will be administered online between March 1-14.

Tom Dabertin, NHF executive director/CEO, said qualifications have recently been expanded to reflect the increased patient incidence of headache and migraine disorders and to encourage caregivers serving our nation’s Veterans to become AQH certified.

To be eligible for the AQH competency examination, a candidate must be a licensed healthcare practitioner who evaluates and manages headache patients independently, including physicians (M.D. and D.O.), physicians assistants, advance practice nurses, dentists, and clinical psychologists.

 

Each candidate must provide documentation of the following criteria regarding license, continuing education, and experience:

  • License-The candidate’s license must be in good standing.
  • Continuing Education-Completion of at least 20 hours, over the last year, of continuing education focusing on headache medicine.
  • Experience-Meet one of the following options:
    • At least one or more years of experience at a headache clinic or Headache Center of Excellence (HCoE), subject to review by NHF’s AQH Oversight Committee, or
    • At least three years of experience managing headache medicine in other clinical settings, or
    • A professional who has completed an accredited Neurology residency (MD or DO), or
    • A professional who has successfully completed a headache fellowship, as approved by the NHF’s AQH Oversight Committee.

 

For more details and to register for the Spring AQH exam – https://headaches.org/aqh/

Dabertin said NHF is focusing special effort on those areas where there is a shortage of AQH-certified practitioners. For example, in six states  (Maine, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming) there are no AQH-certified providers and in another eight states (Delaware, Indiana, Oklahoma, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Washington) only one AQH-certified practitioner is available. “With 40 million Americans experiencing headache disorders and migraine disease – one in four of us – the NHF AQH certification offers validation of one’s expertise in headache medicine to be recognized by your patients and colleagues.”

He added that practitioners earning the AQH certification are glad they did. “They report greater competency in working with migraine and headache patients, and they have also had an uptick in patient referrals and recognition of skills when dealing with managed care and government agencies,” said Dabertin.

NHF board member, Dr. Timothy R. Smith, MD, RPh, FACP, AQH, said, “The AQH certification examination was developed and implemented by the NHF as a direct response to requests from patients with disabling headache disorders who desperately want to identify healthcare providers who care about headache and have earned a reliable credential supporting competency in their field.  Clinicians working in the practice of headache management who want to assure excellent care for their patients and want to challenge themselves to be the best they can be.”

In 2012, the NHF Board recognized the growing number of allied health care practitioners, along with primary care physicians, who had gained experience in the diagnosis and treatment of headache. A competency examination was then developed for eligible candidates. The goals of the AQH are to establish the standards for headache practice and to help those with migraine disease and headache disorders in locating clinicians who can provide optimal headache-related health care.

As a resource to those seeking the full list of AQH professionals, the NHF maintains an online directory that can be found at:  https://headaches.org/resources/healthcare-provider-finder/