What led you to become a doctor?
As a child I was always fascinated by science and mystery. I was always trying to be a sleuth, to understand and figure out why things were the way they were. Medicine seemed to be a good profession that was always looking into what was going on and how to fix it.
I enjoy interpersonal relationships. I never really wanted to be in a profession where I was isolated and couldn’t interact with people. I like being with people and interacting with them, hearing their problems, and working with them to figure out a solution.
What makes your practice unique?
I think it’s because I spend more time with people, help them with their problems, and help them through it. More and more people tell me they saw this Doctor X or went to Clinic Y and the doctor talked to them for a minute, then gave them a prescription and left the room.
I think people are feeling the practice of medicine is getting more impersonal with time constraints and what larger clinics are demanding of their staff. There is less time spent with patients and the patients are feeling slighted. I don’t think you can give people good care when you do that. I think that the interactions are what help you to determine their condition. It’s not just looking at a piece of paper or a report. You have to spend time with the individual to really get to know them and their problem. That’s what I’ve always try to do.
I try to figure out different ways to manage things without surgery. Five out of six patients don’t require surgery. There are a lot of different alternatives that we can do to help. It’s the minority that require surgery.
What were some important aspects of your neurosurgery training?
I had a unique opportunity as a neurosurgery resident at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. I was fortunate to train under Dr. Sanford J. Larson, a renowned neurosurgeon who revolutionized modern spinal neurosurgery. He was truly a pioneer in his field and was one of the first neurosurgeons to use spinal instrumentation for the treatment of many degenerative and traumatic conditions. Under Dr. Larson’s tutelage and other excellent neurosurgeons in training at that time, including Dr. Edward Benzel who is the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic, I was able to master my skills in clinical neurosurgery. I also completed a two-year fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury with Dr. Dennis Maiman who is currently chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
How important is patient education in your practice?
Patient Education is a very major point. People have to understand what their problem is so they can be a participant in getting better. I don’t want people to feel that the reason they’re going to get better is because of everyone else – the doctor, the hospital. They have to realize they’re an equal participant in the process of getting better. It’s a team approach, and if everybody on the team is educated and knows what the goals are, we’ll have a better chance of succeeding.
What are some of the spinal and neurosurgical conditions?
I treat adults primarily. I don’t have a pediatric practice. I treat all spinal degenerative and traumatic conditions. I treat brain tumors, vascular problems such as aneurysms, hydrocephalus, etc. We also treat pain conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia and peripheral nerve problems such as carpal tunnel and nerve entrapments such as ulnar entrapment. And when we do use surgical intervention, we use minimally invasive procedures to help lessen the surgical risks and shorten recovery times.