Andrew Gitkind, MD, vice chairman and medical director of New York City-based Montefiore Spine Center, outlines the department's recent growth and its goals for the coming year.
Question: How has your role as a spine department leader evolved over the past two to three years? How have your responsibilities changed?
Dr. Andrew Gitkind: As medical director of the Montefiore Spine Center, my initial responsibilities predominantly revolved around developing a plan which would bring together spine practitioners from four different departments — interventional pain management, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation medicine — leveraging the strengths of each provider and their background while ensuring a cohesive work environment amongst practitioners who had not previously worked together. My early responsibilities focused mostly on planning and development. Since the center opened two years ago, my responsibilities have shifted to focusing more on growth, of the center itself and of supporting the professional and academic growth of the staff.
Q: What do you consider your No. 1 priority to ensure departmental success?
AG: My biggest priority is to ensure optimal patient outcomes. This requires development and maintenance of evidence-based treatment protocols and pathways which allow patients to be triaged and treated by appropriate level spine providers and moved throughout our treatment team as medically appropriate. First and foremost, this ensures the highest possible patient outcomes as well as patient satisfaction. Success in this area also fosters professional satisfaction amongst our providers because it allows them to practice at the highest level of their training.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you are facing as head of the department and how are you overcoming that?
AG: As a leader of a multidisciplinary department, it is important to provide an environment where physicians from separate departments can work together for one, unified goal. I feel that the best way to foster this is by offering a strong sense of physician engagement. Our faculty members are intimately involved in various aspects of department planning, growth and development. As a result, they are able to develop a feeling of ownership and become stakeholders in the success of this multidisciplinary group.
Q: What are the department's goals for 2019 and what is your vision moving forward?
AG: We are always looking to serve more patients in need within our community. We hope to do so by both growing our faculty as well as expanding our physical footprint, thereby making our services more accessible. In addition, as our faculty grows, we are looking into opportunities to continue to expand the academic portion of our program by increasing our research endeavors and exploring opportunities to increase our resident and fellow training programs.
To learn more about key trends in the spine field today, register for the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + The Spine, Orthopedic and Pain management-Driven ASC Conference, June 13-15, 2019 in Chicago.