How to build a spine practice: 3 surgeons' advice


Opening a spine practice is a daunting task, but with the right strategies, it can be a rewarding option for physicians.

Three spine surgeons share their advice for colleagues who are looking to take that leap.

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 question: When it comes to AI in spine surgery, what’s one thing you're excited about and one thing you’re nervous about? 

Please send responses to Carly Behm at by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, June 19.

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

Question: What are three key tips you have for a spine surgeon looking to set up their own practice/business this year?

Emeka Nwodim, MD. Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics (Bethesda, Md.): To a spine surgeon looking to set up their own practice or business this year, my advice is multifaceted. First, always be diligent in creating the practice you envision for both the present and the future. This involves maintaining discipline in your surgical indications and non-surgical recommendations, ensuring that your practice remains focused and effective. Second, understand your value and strive to grasp the business side of medicine. Whether you are in an employed, academic, or private setting, humbly recognizing what you bring to the table and developing the ability to negotiate and find compromises will be invaluable. Finally, prioritize work-life balance as much as financial success, if not more. Achieving a balance between your professional and personal life is crucial for long-term fulfillment and sustainability in your career.

Yoav Ritter, DO. HCA Florida University Hospital (Davie, Fla.): Develop a practice that treats everyone like family. At our practice, we prioritize a compassionate and holistic approach to patient care. Family is important and we try to treat our patients just as we’d treat our own family members. Whether it's a surgical technique approach or other modalities of treatment. We see patients and we try multiple treatment modalities that are non-surgical to see if we can avoid the surgical aspect of the treatment. Only when nonsurgical treatments fail to provide relief and the patient's well-being is significantly compromised do we discuss surgical intervention.

​​Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): Optimizing one's choice for such an important far-reaching decision should be based on critical fact finding and thought and ultimately be the proper fit for that practitioner's future. Choosing the correct practice should include surveying the character, integrity and surgical acumen of the practitioners one interviews. Albeit well established practices usually have most dysfunctions under control, peer support and newly formed allegiances build practices and reputations of the future. The maximum blend of spinal case acuity is also a consideration as practice creation and community establishment progresses over years with reputational accomplishments and medical staff integration.  

One current fact in medical economics is the continued growth of government-based reimbursements and insurance index shifting to the populace. This speaks to focus upon larger health systems, higher acuity care centers and Medicare prioritization and less focus on private coverage. Another consideration as more physicians opt out of certain patient care models and acceptance.

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