Special Interest Section Profiles: Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

The Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Special Interest Section is Bridging Education Gaps for General Practitioners

When it comes to the field of headache medicine, many of the major efforts to reduce the stigma of migraine and other disabling headache diseases are happening behind the scenes. Advance Practice Providers interact with patients on an intimate level, providing a great opportunity to demonstrate enhanced understanding of those living with headache disorders. The Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistant (NP/PA) Special Interest Section of the American Headache Society is dedicated to providing a network of peer support and education for Advance Practice Providers that are interested in the field of headache medicine.

Below, Section Chair Kimberly Oas, APRN, FNP-BC, shares more information about the NP/PA Special Interest Section, including the group’s current and ongoing work, and their vision for the future.

Name of Special Interest Section:
Nurse Practitioners / Physician Assistants

Name of Section Chair
Kimberly Oas, APRN, FNP-BC

Number of Members

What is the mission of the NP/PA Special Interest Section?
Our mission is to provide a network of peer support and education for Advance Practice Providers that are interested in headache. We want to provide them with resources to enhance treatment options for those living with migraine who may not have received the help or direction to get the medical attention they need.

What are some recent projects this section has been a part of?
One ongoing project we’re especially proud of is The Bridge. The Bridge is a comprehensive educational program for NPs and PAs in primary care specific to headache medicine. It’s a day-long training program that mirrors the chronic migraine program for physicians, but it’s branded by Advance Practice Providers, for Advance Practice Providers. In its full format, it includes a hands-on afternoon session on injections. We presented The Bridge twice in 2016, in San Diego and Baltimore, and most recently in Keystone this past July. The last delivery of that program was very successful, and we’re looking to the future, and looking into better ways to integrate it into continuing education programs nationally.

What are the future goals of this Special Interest Section?
There are currently more than 220,000 NPs and 130,000 PAs in practice, and those numbers are growing every day. So as an organization that wants to see this work done right, we want to find more opportunities to get this message to them. Part of that means increasing the reach of The Bridge program to ensure we are presenting at least twice a year.

Other goals that we would love to pursue include exploring the creation of an online community where Advance Practice Providers can connect, to discuss and share current discipline-specific news as well as their experiences. Down the road, we’d love to see that evolve into a mechanism that facilitates mentorship.

How is this Special Interest Section making an impact in the field of Headache Medicine?
NPs and PAs play a significant role in the primary care of headache, so for many of the millions of migraineurs seeking treatment, it would not be unusual for them to see an Advance Practice Provider first. This makes our work to get Advance Practice Providers aligned with our best practices, and to correct outdated information about how to treat and diagnose headache, especially meaningful.

The American Headache Society is home to a diverse array of Special Interest Sections that connect members with shared specialties to collaborate on research efforts, develop practice models and provide multidisciplinary participation in support of the Society’s mission. The Society is currently home to more than a dozen Special Interest Sections whose concentrations range from the study of complementary and alternative medical treatment to examining how best to reach underserved populations in headache medicine. To get involved in one of the many programs, please contact us through our website at

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