Spine surgeons' proudest moments in 2023


From growing their practices to starting new initiatives in their work, five spine surgeons reflect on the highlights of their year.

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. Becker's invites all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: What's one gift you wish you could give to your spine practice?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at cbehm@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What's your proudest moment in 2023?

Robert Bray Jr., MD. DISC Sports & Spine Center (Newport Beach, Calif.): My proudest moment in 2023 was being able to launch and celebrate our new, state-of-the-art ASC in Los Angeles. We custom-built the DISC Surgery Center at Marina del Rey learning from years spent refining minimally invasive spine care, orthopedics and pain management in an elevated outpatient setting. This learning factors into every detail of what is truly a flagship center for DISC, and an ASC model we will continue to expand.

I'm proud of the entire team behind this effort, from our talented physician partners and dedicated staff to the visionaries behind DISC's parent company, TriasMD, who are championing the expansion of our model while strengthening our relationships with payers.

Brian Fiani, DO. Mendelson Kornblum Orthopedic & Spine Specialists (West Bloomfield, Mich.): My proudest moment in 2023 was receiving the Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (FACOS) award designation, which holds great significance in the field of osteopathic surgery. This prestigious honor is bestowed upon individuals who have demonstrated exceptional knowledge, skills, and contributions to the profession. It signifies a high level of expertise and excellence in the practice of osteopathic surgery.

Receiving this award not only recognizes the hard work and dedication of the recipient but also serves as a testament to my commitment to advancing the field. It highlights my significant achievements and contributions, showcasing my ability to provide quality healthcare to patients. The FACOS award designation also helps to promote and elevate one’s reputation within the medical community.

The FACOS designation is highly valued as it acknowledges the exceptional abilities and contributions of osteopathic surgeons, and I am proud to receive that recognition.

Vladimir Sinkov, MD. Sinkov Spine (Las Vegas): I am proud to be able to continue thriving as a solo practitioner spine surgeon in this challenging environment. I am proud of my team that makes it possible for me to continue providing high-quality, individualized care for my patients.  And I am very proud that I am able to spend more time with my family and get closer to achieving work-life balance.  

Hao-Hua Wu, MD. UCI Health (Orange, Calif.): As someone who is passionate about improving spine surgical care worldwide, I am most proud of helping to start the Global Spine Research Initiative (GSRI) at UC Irvine as well as the Irvine Global Spine Research Fellowship for medical students interested in orthopedic surgery. The aim of these programs is to address global disparities in spine surgery in resource-limited environments through research and education. We are currently partnering with the Institute for Global Orthopaedics and Traumatology (IGOT) and Harvard Global Orthopaedic Collaborative (HGOC) to help with projects in Malawi, Mexico and Ethiopia.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): Realizing that this complex spinal practice is being sustained by a group of co-workers who continue to give this practice their selfless efforts and deeds to our patients and this fine community. It starts with advanced providers, clinical nurses and office staff who oversee and superintend details relating to the logistics and workings of an assiduous practice. Patient flow, surgical readiness and continuum of care being foremost, and the comprehensive machinations required for completion. Honorably mentioning our comprised operating room staff (anesthesia, pre-/postoperative nursing and surgical organization) is also quite necessary and deserving. Outcomes and safety depend on systems and flow processes, and SAHS is truly the finest. Many decades of change and challenge have tested this system for it to persevere and flourish. The perennial standard bearers of my pride and joy, however, are my wife and children for all the reasons we live and love.

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