'The day after a block of elective spine surgeries': The best part of the week for 6 surgeons


From seeing the expression on their patients' faces after surgery to the day after a haul of elective cases and completing rounds on a Saturday morning, six spine surgeons share their favorite part of the week:

Question: What's your favorite part of the week as a spine surgeon?

Note: Responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Jeremy Smith, MD. Hoag Orthopedic Institute (Irvine, Calif.): My favorite part of the week is being in the operating room. It is where I feel the most relaxed and gratified. The hard work of planning and preparing pays off. I feel it took about five years to gain the experience and confidence to get to that point.

Srdjan Mirkovic, MD. NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute (Chicago, Skokie, Ill.): My favorite day of the week is Saturday mornings after rounds. It's the end of the week, and after seeing patients I have a sense of accomplishment.

Brian Gantwerker, MD. The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: My favorite part of the week is Friday night. Usually it is a light OR day, and I can go see my family early. I will usually go for a 10-mile bike ride and then come home, shower and shift into weekend mode. We laugh around the kitchen table during dinner, and then usually watch some nature show together as a family — me next to my son, and with my dog passed out on her side at my wife's feet. When I was younger, about my son's age, we used to watch Jacques Cousteau on PBS with my brother and my dad. It takes me back to those days of wonder and exploration —  the very thing that got me interested in science, and eventually, the art of medicine.

Nitin Bhatia, MD. UCI Health (Orange, Calif.): My favorite part of the week is when patients wake up from surgery and realize that their previous pain is gone. For many of them, the pain has been debilitating, and the thought of surgery was rightfully scary. Successfully eliminating their pain is a wonderfully rewarding part of our job.    

Alok Sharan, MD. NJ Spine and Wellness (East Brunswick, N.J.): In the summer, I look forward to Friday afternoons. During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, I got a boating license and signed up to be a member of a boat club. After a long and hard week I would drive about one hour west of New York City to a lake that I enjoy. The drive is mostly highway and you could see the transformation from the austere cement buildings of the city to the open grassy plains of Northwest New Jersey. As you get closer to the lake, the environment changes and the excitement builds up.

At the boat club the deck hands will have your boat cleaned and ready to go. The lake itself has a lot of character to it. Often you can see people sailing on the water, using their jet skis, or others who have a similar idea of relaxing in the open water. I have really come to enjoy taking a deck boat out and using the water as a means to refresh and recharge. My only worry is that the boats go away in October.

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