What makes spine surgery worth it for 2 physicians


Two spine surgeons share the aspects of their job that makes going into work worth it.

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 opportunities should spine surgeons take to collaborate with other specialties?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at cbehm@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Oct. 25.

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

Question: What makes going into work worth it?

Zachary Goldstein, MD. OrthoIllinois (Elgin): I know that it may sound cliche, but seeing my patients do well is the most rewarding aspect of my job. Spine patients can be some of the most miserable patients preoperatively given the severity of nerve-related pain as compared to other orthopedic injuries and generally painful conditions. This also allows spine patients specifically to become the most grateful and appreciative postoperative patients. Removing a painful disc herniation or decompressing severe spinal stenosis that has been present for years, often leads to 'tears of joy' after surgery for both patients and families alike. Receiving a genuine 'thank you' in the office or on rounds from a grateful patient is the best gift I can receive as a spine surgeon.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): For this practitioner, many reasons direct one's motivation, such as tradition, duty to others coupled with the values of medicine. Truth be told, its my immediate staff and hospital work associates, including the many derivatives of surgical preparation, OR personnel, anesthesia and nursing who drive this worth it. 

My advance providers and fellow surgical and clinical coworkers (have and continue to) shore up structure, support and the highest amount of encouragement and actuation in this surgical profession. Realizing these folks' steadfast levels of commitment to the patients and community is simultaneously humbling and reassuring in a current healthcare delivery world that continues through too many economic challenges.  

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