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John T. Hughes, MD


Specialty: Neurology

Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall

Cornwall Neurology


Can you give an example of an interaction that changed the way you talk to patients?

I don’t know if it’s so much one instance. It’s a culmination of repeated encounters. One thing I’ve learned is: Don’t interrupt the patient when they’re telling you a story. There’s a big temptation amongst us to interrupt the patient. And it’s so important to hear the patient’s history the first time and hear it all and ask your clarification questions later. If you jump in and cut the patient off, the patient loses their train of thought. And you don’t really hear important information that may have been really helpful.


Are there any new and exciting treatments for epilepsy and/or multiple sclerosis on the horizon?

Epilepsy surgery has revolutionized patients that have been refractory to medicine. This has allowed patients to become seizure-free or at least have a marked decrease in the frequency and intensity of their seizures. In terms of new meds right now, in the last 10 or 15 years we have had a plethora of new drugs that have been used that are much more tolerable and much more efficacious. The meds are really where epilepsy treatment is right now.


What is something medical school doesn’t teach you?

There’s a lot of things that they don’t teach you. And a lot of it comes with experience. When I was doing my residency at NYC, one my mentors there said “You’re very good but you won’t be really good until you’ve done this for 10 years.” And he was wrong. It took about 20 years. In terms of experiencing how to deal with patients, how to listen to patients, that’s really the key, especially in neurology. Because neurology is mostly history and physical. It’s still one of the quintessential medical sciences where the history and physical are paramount.


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