Issues with the brain, spine, and neck can have a ripple effect on so many other parts of the body, which is why you should only entrust your care to the most qualified medical professionals when you need a neurosurgical procedure. If you’re living in Atlanta, how do you find those who are most qualified? What does it take to be one of Atlanta’s top neurosurgeons? Here are some important qualities to look for.
Education and Experience
By the time a neurosurgeon works in his own practice, they should already have accumulated nearly 20 years of education and experience. Not only do neurosurgeons complete college and medical school (a combined 6-8 year process), but they also must complete a one-year internship, followed by another 7 years of residency in a neurosurgical facility. Finally, the best neurosurgeons follow up this training with another 1-2 years in a fellowship to develop a specialty. The training doesn’t end there, though. It’s not enough just to ask the surgeon where they went to school. For top neurosurgeons, education and experience run on parallel tracks that often merge. Because technology and medicine are always evolving and improving, the most committed surgeons will maintain a regimen of continuing education so they always stay abreast of the latest techniques and advances, ensuring they can always provide their patients with the highest quality of care. Effectively, education and experience are the bedrock of any trustworthy neurosurgeon — and the more years spent on both, the better.
Board Certification and Professional Associations
Every neurosurgeon in the U.S. must pass board examinations for the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS). However, that’s only the initial step. Neurosurgeons must maintain their board certification through ongoing education and continuing to meet the professional standards set by the board. Always check to be certain your surgeon’s board certification is in good standing before entrusting him to perform a procedure. (The ABNS has a search feature on its website.) In addition, the most diligent neurosurgeons will also belong to one or more professional associations — for example, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). These associations provide high levels of accountability to their members by holding them to ongoing standards of excellence in training and practice. Atlanta’s top neurosurgeons will belong to at least one of these associations.
Compassion, Empathy, and Calmness
These qualities combined are commonly referred to as “bedside manner,” and great neurosurgeons have these qualities in abundance. Their patients frequently come in with some sort of pain, often intense pain, which can add to their fear and stress. A calm personality and comforting tone of voice can make a world of difference to these patients. The best neurosurgeons will listen carefully to the patient, asking questions and getting clarity. They also have the ability to speak sometimes difficult truths to their patients about their surgery options, yet do so in a manner that helps to calm the patient while building trust in the process.
Cool Under Pressure
Procedures performed on the brain and spine often require hours of intense concentration and microscopic precision on the part of the surgeon. Not only must the surgeon have the physical stamina to stand and work effectively for up to 10-12 hours at a time, they must also be able to remain steadfast and calm under high levels of stress. If in doubt, be certain to ask for references among other patients and members of the surgeon’s team to gain assurances that your neurosurgeon possesses these important qualities.
Finally, a top neurosurgeon understands that every patient is different, responding individually to pain, medications and treatment. For the best care and treatment, there is simply no room for a one-size-fits-all mentality. In most cases, the surgeon will choose surgery as a last option after non-invasive treatments have been tried. However, a good neurosurgeon will also be flexible in his approach, adapting a customized course of treatment to each patient’s needs and goals.
At Polaris Spine and Neurosurgery Center, we are steadfastly committed to providing each of our patients with the highest levels of compassionate, individualized care and treatment. Every physician on our staff comes to us with years of clinical experience, and each is board certified and a member in good standing with the AANS. We’ve also worked hard to build ongoing trust and loyalty with our patients, who often recommend us to others in need of our help. We’re proud to say that we are home to some of Atlanta’s top neurosurgeons. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 404.256.2633.