Three of the Biggest Trends in Pain Management Today

Pain management as a specialty is a technologically improving field. Each year there seems to be at least a couple procedures that are made better with technological improvements or something new is introduced to help alleviate pain in patients.

These are 3 of the biggest trends being seen in pain treatment today some of which are technological, others of which are simply clinical related.

1. Pain doctors are starting to perform minimally invasive spine surgery. If you have been to see a modern pain doctor’s office recently, you may start to notice that a significant amount of pain doctors are now shifting into performing some procedures that spine surgeons typically performed. An overlap is beginning, and one of the main drivers for this is increased technology with fluoroscopy and minimally invasive instruments. The procedures that pain doctors are starting to perform include lumbar decompression’s, discectomies, and intra-discal procedures.

2. Spinal cord stimulation is expanding in indications and improving in technology. The spinal cord stimulator is placed into the spine and serves to block the pain impulses that may radiate down into a person’s leg. It has also been shown to help with back pain too. methods of placing spinal cord stimulators continues to evolve. For instance, the pain doctor may place the main paddle in the spinal canal while placing the additional lead in the soft tissues of the back to help reduce back pain better. This is one of the most exciting procedures in pain management today and continues to improve. Patients who have no options for their back pain and surgery is not indicated, having a last resort option such as a spinal cord stimulator is a beautiful thing if it works.

3. Pain doctors are becoming more responsible with prescribing opiate medications. Unfortunately pill mills in United States have tarnished the image of pain doctors. These individuals have devoted their lives to reducing pain and suffering individuals. And a select few have tarnished the image of doctors who are doing it the right way. Pain management doctors who offer comprehensive treatment options, drug testing, pain contracts, and checking pharmacy board monitoring systems definitely have the best interest of the patient at heart. As the DEA has cracked down on pill mills, those are being weeded out and responsible pain clinics are staying in business.

There are some fabulous things happening in pain management today. The next few years will be very exciting to see what technologies continue to improve and what new ones get introduced. With the epidemic of pain in this country today, this revolution of pain treatment options could not be happening at a better time.

IHS Pharmacists – Indian Health Service – Beyond TDYs

If your career path has crossed working with the Indian Health Service at some point in time, whether as a pharmacist or student completing a rotation, chances are that you will work with the IHS at another point in your career in some capacity down the road.

For pharmacists who are waiting for their Commissioned Corps call to active duty right now, an option available to you is working temporary pharmacist assignments through a pharmacist staffing agency that offers Indian Health Service assignments. This gives you the opportunity to work in the IHS setting without losing out on experience and making money, while waiting for your bureaucratic paperwork to come through.

If you are recently retired from the Indian Health Service and wanting to do some relief work, travel assignments can be a great way for you to stay connected with the IHS, make money to supplement your retirement, and work when you want to.

If you are currently working for a relief agency and working in the IHS setting, but want to have more desirable work environments and locations to choose from, do research on how you can get the opportunity to do IHS assignments in desirable settings.

If you have worked for the Indian Health Service at some point in time, whether as a pharmacist or had exposure as a JRCOSTEP or during a rotation, doing contract pharmacist work in between jobs or as a career can be options to consider. One IHS-experienced pharmacist, for example, was most recently working for the Veteran’s Affairs as a full-time clinical pharmacist. In between transitioning from the VA to her next job, she explored different parts of the country such as Alaska and Arizona and covered for IHS/tribal pharmacies, before settling in a permanent position. It offered her the opportunity to bridge her recent job with her next career move, by allowing her time to think about what she wanted to do. She was able to use her clinical knowledge while serving Native American patients, and make money in the interim. Other pharmacists step into temp pharmacist work with the Indian Health Service as an interim plan, but then eventually continue contracting for the flexibility and rewarding practice opportunity it offers.

When selecting a relief agency to connect you with Indian Health Service travel assignments, see if the company specializes in Indian Health Service and in pharmacy. Some companies offer temporary pharmacist opportunities, but do not offer a variety of IHS assignments to choose from. This means that they may not have as good connections that will result in options to choose from.

Find out how they select the IHS sites they work with. Some agencies will send relief pharmacists to work at any site that has a need, whether or not the work environment is desirable.

Also, ask the temporary pharmacist staffing company whether they have minimum length assignment requirements. Some companies require minimum of 13-week assignments with no flexibility. Others are open to you completing variable length assignments, accommodating your schedule needs.

Find out what the staffing company does to address what’s important to you and meet those needs of yours before, during, and after the assignment. This is where many relief agencies differ. Some make it a point to make you a priority. Others are focused on getting you to take any assignment they have an opening in, and may not give you the level of service you deserve.

The pharmacists who find the most joy working Indian Health Service travel assignments are ones who are adaptable, have an interest in Native American culture, and appreciate working in an ambulatory care setting in close collaboration with providers.

If you are either recently retired from Indian Health Service, are in the process of waiting for Commissioned Corps call to active duty, or have experience or interest working in the IHS setting as a relief pharmacist, do some research to find out options available to you.