Five spine surgeons weigh in on what makes spine surgery a fulfilling and satisfying career.
Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses. Next week's question: How can spine surgeons maintain positive relationships with referral sources?
Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at email@example.com by Wednesday, June 4, at 5 p.m. CST.
Question: What are the most satisfying aspects of being a spine surgeon?
Neel Anand, MD, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Director, Spine Trauma, Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, Los Angeles: Helping someone with chronic pain get better and get their life back. There is nothing like turning a patient's life around and seeing them be happy and expressing it.
Purnendu Gupta, MD, Director, Chicago Spine Center, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago: Being able to treat patients to restore their function and quality of life through surgical and non-surgical therapies is phenomenally rewarding.
In the course of my practice, I see so many patients who cannot participate in everyday activities — activities most of us take for granted — because of their spinal condition. To see them stand and walk following treatment, to hear that they are able to meet friends for lunch again or to see pictures of them spending time with their grandchildren — brings me great fulfillment.
Working with a multidisciplinary team of professionals to evaluate patients and determine how to best treat their spinal condition with each specialist's perspective and insight is also very gratifying. We can observe the patients walking in the hallway together and discuss their care in real time to develop a coordinated plan of action. It [gives me] a great sense of accomplishment to see our team working together to improve patient outcomes.
Brian R. Gantwerker, MD, The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: The restoration of the patient's quality of life. There is a great feeling when a patient comes back to clinic for their first postoperative visit and they are arguing with me to get back to the gym or play golf.
Richard A. Kube II, MD, CEO, Founder, Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, Peoria, Ill.: Most satisfaction still stems from the interaction with patients. The personal interaction and ability to communicate reassurance and hopefully resolution of patient concerns followed by implementation of treatment plans continues to be what keeps my interest. That desire leads to the mental exercises of fine tuning diagnosis and striving for new options which improve the overall experience and outcomes for those individuals who trust us with their care. Sadly, the increases in regulatory hurdles and administrative responsibilities allows for less and less of this valuable and enjoyable time with our patients.
Sheeraz Qureshi, MD, Chief, Spinal Trauma, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City: The most satisfying aspect of being a spine surgeon is helping patients get their lives back. Spine conditions have been shown to effect patients' quality of life more than most other medical issues and spine surgeries have been proven to be effective in allowing patients to regain significant quality back for longer and longer periods of time.
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