Nursing at MHNI


When MHNI was founded, a distinct and unique role for the nurse was put into practice that continues today. Each nurse (all registered nurses) actively participates on the treatment team and assists the physician in assessing a patient’s headache/pain status and educating patients about treatment. Each nurse forms a partnership with both the physician and patient to work for the best interests of the patient. From the beginning, several important aspects of MHNI nursing care came to fruition:

  • Special educational programming individualized for each patient's unique situation.
  • Designation of a Telephone Nurse to address patient questions and concerns (in consultation with an MHNI physician) during clinic hours.
  • Comprehensive headache/pain assessment interview completed by a nurse with each new patient prior to examination and assessment by the physician.
  • Nurses assist the physician in teaching each patient about various avenues of treatment (drug and non-drug), including the positive and negative effects of medications that are prescribed.

A large staff of nurses are employed at MHNI with many dedicated to specific activities, such as research, general pain management, post-traumatic patients, etc. MHNI nurses become “nurse experts” in head pain and other pain disorders through an intense orientation and supervision process conducted by the Assistant Head Nurse, Head Nurse, and Clinical Coordinator.

What is the orientation process for new nurses?

The orientation for new nurses is quite extensive and begins by working very closely for several weeks with an experienced MHNI nurse. During this time, orientees observe the nursing role and subsequently perform these duties while being supervised and evaluated. This process continues until nursing leadership feels that the new nurse is capable of functioning on his or her own.

In addition, for at least a period of 3 months, new nurses continue to have their work checked by senior staff members. They will also be assigned a significant amount of reading and studying material with emphasis given to the medications utilized by the physicians at MHNI. Before new nurses can work alone or work without supervision, they must satisfactorily complete an extensive proficiency test covering all aspects of their position.

Are MHNI nurses required to receive continuing education about new treatments and research in the field?

All nurses licensed by the State of Michigan are required to complete a minimum of 25 hours of continuing education every 2 years for license renewal. At MHNI, there are additional educational requirements and opportunities for nurses in the form of lectures, presentations, and clinical conferences. Presentations are provided by MHNI’s multidisciplinary staff of professionals, as well as invited guest speakers from universities, medical centers, and other prestigious organizations. In addition, nurses from MHNI frequently attend national meetings on headache and pain.

Many patients who attend MHNI would prefer to see the same nurse at each visit. Why is this not part of the MHNI system?

Over the years we have considered primary nursing at MHNI whereby the patient would see the same nurse at every visit. However, the number of variables in patient and staff schedules makes this difficult. We do try to ensure that our patients see the same physician at every visit, unless an emergency occurs. In addition, each physician has a dedicated team of nurses that he/she works with on a consistent basis. Hopefully after a few visits, our patients will become acquainted with the physician’s team of nurses and feel that they are receiving “primary” nursing from a dedicated team of professionals.