Dr. Emeka Nwodim of Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: 4 Qs on the challenges & opportunities in spine

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Emeka Nwodim, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal reconstruction surgery at Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, Bay Area Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Glen Burnie, Md.

Dr. Nwodim discusses challenges as a spine surgeon, methods for combatting burnout, and his goals for the future.

Question: What are the challenges that drive you as a spine surgeon? What do you most enjoy?

Dr. Emeka Nwodim: I believe the challenges I face are similar to those that all spine surgeons are facing, including balancing optimal care for patients with a very expensive healthcare industry. I often choose a non-surgical route, though this can be expensive for my patients. I hope that in an ever-changing healthcare industry, we can continue to find ways to lower the cost of care and make it financially reasonable for consumers.

What I enjoy the most continues to be seeing my patients happy. I recognize that patients come to see me primarily for pain and health concerns but often times that is compounded by challenges and trials in their personal lives. I enjoy seeing them leave my office with a smile on their face.

Q: What are your best tactics for combating mental fatigue or burnout?

EN: As a physician and in particular a surgeon, I’ve recognized that being a healthcare professional can be very challenging and both physically and mentally exhausting. I believe this phenomenon exists all across the healthcare industry, not just for physicians and surgeons. My method for countering this is prioritizing my family, especially my wife, as much as I do my patients. I believe it is critical to have a balance between work and my personal life. 

Q: What do you see as the major challenges currently facing spinal medicine?

EN: The greatest challenge for spinal medicine in general is controlling the cost for patients, for healthcare expenses in general but also for spine care specifically.

Q: What advice would you offer to younger physicians considering a career in spine?

EN: My advice to younger physicians considering a career in spine would be engage in realistic discussion with surgeons that are already practicing in the world of spine. I would encourage them to discuss all matters, including both professional and personal pros and cons, in order to get a realistic idea of what a career in spine surgery entails. I would also encourage them to not be discouraged by any foreseen challenges, but to recognize them and be a means for change and improvement.

Q: Is there a single initiative your organization has undertaken recently that you are particularly proud of?

EN: An initiative which my organization has taken and which I am very proud of is the unification of many private practice physicians and surgeons to optimize patient care and improve population health. By coming together, The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics has helped balance the decision-making pendulum between patients, payers and providers.

Q: What are your professional goals this year and for the next few years?

EN: My professional goals this year are to continue to provide the best care that I can for my patients, continue to learn from my mentors and colleagues, and continue to grow my practice in a way that I believe is honest. 

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Alan Condon at acondon@beckershealthcare.com.

Learn more about key trends in spine surgery at the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + The Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference, June 13-15 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register. For more information about exhibitor and sponsor opportunities, contact Maura Jodoin at mjodoin@beckershealthcare.com.

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