Editor's Column: Doctor as Teacher

By William Sullivan posted 09-05-2017 01:16 PM

Doctor is a Latin word, and it was borrowed from Latin already formed with a meaning, namely "teacher." The word is formed exactly the way teacher is: a verb root (English teach-, Latin doc-), plus an agentive suffix (English -er, Latin -tor). Whether you are a DC, DO, DPT, DSc, MD, PharmD, or PhD, you should consider yourself a teacher. PAs and NPs are included also, because in many parts of the world, the term doctor is also used by medical practitioners, regardless of whether they hold a doctoral-level degree.

The annual Residents and Fellows course, "2017 Fundamentals of Spine Surgery and Interventional Pain Managment," is just one example of the many educational programs provided by NASS. The next opportunity for this course is coming up September 15–16 at NASS Headquarters just outside of Chicago, and there may still be just enough time and space to register. This course is open to current spine fellows and to residents participating in match programs in the following fields, to ensure an optimal learning environment for all attendees: orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, radiology, anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain management. The Co-Chairs—Edward J. Dohring, MD, Srinivas Prasad, MD, and Donna M. Lahey, RNFA—do a wonderful job developing the program, including lectures and lab skills.

This course introduces anatomic approaches to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine as well as surgical and interventional injection indications, principles, techniques and skills. Lectures provide the background for hands-on cadaver sessions where participants have the opportunity to practice techniques with faculty who are considered experts in their fields. Attendees have the unique opportunity to learn, about both nonoperative (interventional injections) and operative (surgical) approaches in the treatment of spinal disorders. The focus of this educational experience will be to provide the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to benefit the most from spinal fellowship training.

I am particularly fond of this course because of the fire it lit in someone close to me. My daughter was able to attend with me last fall at the Annual Meeting. I had not yet attended a cadaver workshop at her age, and even still have not placed a pedicle screw (not that I ever should!). She did both and more, with faculty and other attendees taking her under their wings, and lighting the fire of education. She was hooked, and the flame has been much more than kindled, it has been raging. She is setting her sights on the best undergraduate experience to fulfill her dream of being a surgeon (perhaps even a spine surgeon). These educational opportunities should inspire us all, whether we do this daily as part of our academic careers, or less frequently in private practice. But even the latter group probably provides more teaching (doctoring) than they might otherwise think.

I am pleased to introduce Daniel K. Resnick, MD, to these pages as he writes his first column for SpineLine. As you may know, in the July/August edition, we give the incoming NASS President an opportunity to write for our “From the Desk of the President” section, renamed as “From the Desk of the First Vice President.” It also gives the current President a bit of a break. For those who know Dan, he is energetic (especially on stage), detail-oriented, thoughtful and comprehensive. He is a Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton University, followed by medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been practicing at UW Hospital and Clinics since completing his residency at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Resnick specializes in disorders of the spine and has a particular expertise in minimally-incisional surgery, spinal tumors and degenerative disorders of the spine. I believe his column is one of the most robust we've had from a First Vice President. I am looking forward to many more columns once he takes over as President of NASS after the Annual Meeting.

As usual, this issue includes our Current Concepts section which begins this time with a discussion on Value in Spine Care titled, “Care Models Drive Value of Care,” by Emily Karlen, MPT, MBA. You'll also find a perspective piece from Carrie Diulus, MD, titled, “Physicians Must Be Aware of Supplements Taken by Patients.” This is becoming more and more of an issue, or maybe so just in my part of the country (lots of herbs and other supplements). Also, two recent spine studies are featured in our Literature Review Commentary, provided by Raj Gala, MD, Ari Hilibrand and Jonathan Grauer, MD.

In the Socioeconomics and Politics section, we include a Coding column from Jeffery A. Stone, MD, on “Coding for Spine Imaging." Alongside Coding, Allison Waxler presents “Medicare Social Security Number Removal Initiative” in a brief Regulatory Policy piece.

Be sure to peruse the remainder of this issue, the NASS News section, which is filled with good information on several upcoming NASS education events. You'll find details on the September Residents & Fellows Course, annual meeting highlights including a profile on Presidential Guest Speaker Rebecca Costa and information about the NASS course on "Evaluation & Treatment of Adult Spinal Deformity: Skull to Sacrum."

I hope you enjoy this issue. As always, we are receptive to any comments or suggestions that will help make a difference…

*This column originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of SpineLine. To read more, click here