'Keep challenging yourself' & other advice: 5 spine surgeons weigh in on ensuring professional growth


Here five spine surgeons discuss the best ways to ensure professional growth over the course of a spine care 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 do you maintain your health while still running a successful practice?

Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at avaidya@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, June 8, at 5 p.m. CST.


Question: What advice do you have for spine surgeons who want to continue to grow professionally?


Kern Singh, MD, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, Chicago: Keep challenging yourself to be a better clinician and surgeon. Don't become complacent. If you're still doing the same thing that you learned 10 years ago you are falling behind. Keep practicing solid fundamentals but always try and incorporate new techniques and technologies to improve your care of the patient.


Richard Kube, MD, Founder, CEO, Prairie Spine & Pain Institute (Peoria, Ill.): Seek out the right mentors, and keep an open mind. Most of the time you will discover that there is a lot you don't know. Expand beyond your mentors in terms of surgical skill and technique.


Some of the most professionally rewarding growth I have had is related to business strategy and human resources. Of those two, human resources is incredibly valuable.  Gaining insight into how people think and what drives their actions will help you relate at work and in a social setting. You will also gain a different perspective for your patients and better understand them which will help you improve communication. It will make you a better doctor as well as a better boss and professional.


Amir Vokshoor, Neurological Spine Surgeon, DISC Sports & Spine Center, Marina del Rey, Calif.: Professional growth, in my opinion, is about each of us seeking an appropriate level of engagement with peers and institutions. Our careers invariably have us doing the daily tasks of patient care, which are paramount to obtaining necessary skills and evolving as a surgeon, but I tend to balance my daily "busy work" with other tasks, such as involvement in research, hospital or community education regarding spine and brain health as well as keeping up with the onslaught of new innovations in various journal publications. There are also family obligations, which are very important and require quite a balancing act.


I believe that engaging our networks of peers and colleagues can help us grow professionally. Engagement in professional societies, for the purpose of staying at the cutting edge of available information on the latest surgical techniques, also helps significantly.  


Thomas A. McNally, MD, Director, Chicago Spine Center at Weiss Memorial Hospital: I would advise spine surgeons wanting to grow professionally to stay current on new developments and techniques. One way to do that is get involved with societies, such as the North American Spine Society. It's a good way to connect with peers and contribute to the profession. Sometimes we get set in our own ways, so staying open to learning and innovating will lead to continued professional growth.


Brian R. Gantwerker, MD, The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: For younger spine surgeons I would say start slowly and gain confidence before doing huge cases. Sometimes we do not have that luxury. But if you can, find a good mentor to help you through the tough ones. Ultimately, you will have to rely upon yourself but set a routine before each case — consent forms, films, lab notes, your office notes, etc. Ask for advice when appropriate and never assume that something bad will never happen to you.


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers