Dr. Vivek Deshmukh of Providence Brain & Spine Institute and The Oregon Clinic: modern challenges in spinal surgery

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Vivek Deshmukh, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon at The Oregon Clinic in Portland and chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Providence (Ore.) Brain and Spine Institute.

Here, Dr. Deshmukh discusses the challenges facing the spine field, his goals for the future and more.

Question: What do you see as the major challenges currently facing spine today? 

Dr. Vivek Deshmukh: The major challenge is continuing to deliver value when caring for patients with spinal disorders. In order to deliver on our value imperative, we need to further refine appropriate indications and develop a reliable platform to track surgical costs and patient outcomes. We also need to continue to partner with industry to lower implant costs so that we can provide care for all patients.

Q: What are the challenges that drive you as a neurosurgeon? What do you most enjoy?

VD: The primary challenge that drives me as a neurosurgeon is the continued effort to achieve the best possible outcomes when treating the most complex neurosurgical disorders. There is no margin for error in neurosurgery. I have chosen a profession that constantly stimulates and demands the best out of me. The greatest reward in neurosurgery is the grateful patient who understands that we were able to fix a complicated problem and give them their life back.

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

VD: You have to engage in activities that take your mind off of work. For me, this includes personal fitness and spending time with family. If I’m swimming or lifting weights or playing tennis with my son, I am not thinking about work. I get recharged and it allows me to continue to perform at work at a high level. I think burnout is less of a factor if you have greater autonomy and control over your practice and if you find your work intrinsically gratifying.

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

VD: Find a training program that gives you the breadth of skills to confidently establish and build a spine practice. Surgical skill and acumen is the foundation of your surgical career.

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

VD: Our spine care continuum program has allowed us to identify and treat surgical spine patients more expeditiously and has allowed us to direct non-surgical patients more quickly toward appropriate pain management avenues. This has been a win for our patients and surgeons and has helped us to reduce overall costs for this patient population.

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

VD: My professional goals are to further develop our neurosurgical fellowship programs, develop neurosurgical databases across the Providence Health system, develop an innovation center at our Institute that helps develop cutting edge therapeutics, and follow through on our growth initiatives so that we can give more patients access to our world class neurosurgical and spine programs. 

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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