Staffing, technology, growth and more: 4 surgeons' goals for 2023

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Adding new spinal surgery technology, recruiting staff and expanding education for patients and mentees are among a few of the goals spine and orthopedic surgeons have for 2023. 

Four surgeons recently shared with Becker's their goals for next year:

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

James Dowdell, MD. Spine Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City): The goals I have set for my practice in 2023 are as follows: 

  • Further incorporation of minimally invasive techniques that enable earlier recovery from surgery for patients. 
  • Incorporate more enabling technology to make spine surgery safer and more reproducible. 
  • To continue to educate my patients on the risks and benefits of spine surgery so they choose to have surgery for the right reasons. Indications are the most important variable in determining patient outcomes with surgery. 
  • Increase my participation with residents and fellows with regard to education so I can play a part in training the next generation of spine surgeons. 

Philip Louie, MD. Spine Surgeon and Medical Director of Research and Academics at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): With 2022 winding down, my goals for 2023 are threefold. From a personal standpoint, I want to continue to discover new hobbies that I can do with my wife and kids and find different ways to explore the outdoors throughout all four seasons. I live in Seattle, and my kids don't like rain — we've got some work to do!

From a practice perspective, there are three major areas that I want to focus on. Clinically, I want to grow our access to ASCs for our patients and evaluate the impact of enabling technologies in providing value-based care that is innovative, safe and effective. From an academic standpoint, our group has placed a large focus on mentoring medical students, providing them with unparalleled research and clinical experience. We have also engaged our clinical staff and [advanced practice providers] in various academic pursuits. Our goal is to have all of our students present at least one poster or podium presentation as well as publish their studies. We also believe in growing the strength of the local spine community, and academics are a great avenue to do so. We would love to create some multicenter/regional research collaborations to answer many of the clinical questions that we share. We live in a cost-constrained healthcare landscape right now that is further squeezed by an ongoing pandemic, short-staffing crisis and overall burnout from various ongoing life stressors. We have so many new team members, and our goal is to create a semblance of one big functional work family where our staff share our visions and missions.

Eric Nottmeier, MD. Professor of Neurosurgery and Vice Chair of Clinical Operations at Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville, Fla.): 2022 has presented a significant challenge with nurse and tech staffing, especially in the operating room. One of the primary goals of our practice in 2023 is to rebuild a surgery team of the caliber that we lost in 2022, and maintain that team indefinitely. This requires competitive pay, as well as a sense of collegiality among the team. It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of our nurses and techs in the operating room and their contribution to the high-level care we give our patients. This importance extends beyond the operating room to all aspects of care in the hospital.   

Vikas Patel, MD. Executive Vice Chair of Orthopedic Surgery and Spine Surgeon at University of Colorado Medicine (Aurora): As an academic physician working in an academic medical center with medical student, residency and fellowship training, we will be facing our biggest challenges the same as everyone else. Staffing, space and resources have become our biggest challenge. Trying to grow in an environment of limited resources will mean making a lot of hard decisions. Our goals will be to grow where we can and stay steady where we cannot. We will also have to choose in terms of which new technologies to adopt as most come with a significant cost. And the biggest goal will be to maintain and improve physician and staff wellness in this "post-COVID" environment that has become far more stressful than expected. On the other side of 2023, we plan to continue to be one of the top orthopedic programs in the country.

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