How 7 spine surgeons stay refreshed & recharged in their careers

Seven spine surgeons share their best advice for mitigating burnout.

Ask Spine Surgeon is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

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Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at by Wednesday, May 24, at 5 p.m. CST.


Question: What are some of your tips for avoiding physician burnout?


Jeffrey C. Wang, MD. Co-Director of the USC Spine Center at Keck Medicine of USC (Los Angeles): I think this is really a life lesson, in that people can feel burnout in any situation or occupation. I think the key for physicians is to do the things you enjoy in your practice and avoid having it turn into doing things you do not enjoy. You also need to stay on top of novel developments so that your practice continues to be contemporary, up-to-date and evolving with time. This keeps your practice fresh and changing, which I think helps avoid a constant routine.


On a personal side, I recommend trying to connect with your patients. If you treat each one as an individual, even if they have similar problems, their individuality will keep the treatment of that particular patient a developing relationship, which never grows old. I believe physicians should also talk with their friends, partners and their families so that they find ways to prevent burnout.


Richard Kube, MD. Founder and CEO of Prairie Spine & Pain Institute (Peoria, Ill.): Even a rapidly evolving specialty like spine surgery can involve burnout. Our profession involves many frustrations like insurance carriers, federal regulations and other countless bureaucratic tasks. You must always take time to remember what brought you into the profession in the first place. Get involved in teaching others and…

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