NASS Insider

May 30, 2023

The NASS Backbone: Evidence-Based Medicine Committee Chair Edition

Welcome again to The NASS Backbone, the series bringing our NASS volunteers to the forefront. NASS has a multitude of committees, sections, workgroups, and task forces working hard to bring the best spine education, research, and advocacy directly to you. But who are these volunteers, and why do they do what they do? This series highlights various volunteers from all areas of NASS, showcasing their experiences both within and outside of NASS.

In this edition, we talk to Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC, Chair of the Evidence-Based Medicine Committee

Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC
NASS: Tell us a bit about yourself ...
Dr. Fehlings: My name is Michael Fehlings. I am a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. I am the chair of the EBM committee. I have 3 grown children (Tara, Lauren, and Nick) and 5 grandchildren (Abby, Theo, Arthur, Farley, and Eloise). My wife Darcy is an academic pediatric neurodevelopmental physician with an interest in children with cerebral palsy. I enjoy time at our northern Ontario vacation lakeside home in Muskoka, as well as travel, music, theatre, and spending time with family and friends.

NASS: What has been your favorite part about being part of this Section? What interested you in joining in the first place?
Dr. Fehlings: I am excited about promoting evidence-based medicine approaches to facilitate translational research and knowledge translation/dissemination. I enjoy leading the courses and interacting with a bright dedicated committee. Teaching the EBM courses is fun! I look forward to expanding the scope of the EBM educational offerings and am also excited about the opportunity to move the SI Joint pain guidelines forward. These will be the first guidelines NASS is doing which will follow GRADE processes.
NASS: How long has the Committee been around and why was it formed?
Dr. Fehlings: The EBM committee was created in December 2018 with the intention to bring GRADE processes to NASS.

NASS: What professions/specialties/experience make up the members of this Committee?
Dr. Fehlings: The EBM committee is diverse in age, gender and professional background. Member specialties include neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, and pain management.

NASS: In your opinion, how does this Committee further NASS' mission to provide multidisciplinary evidence-based healthcare to members?
Dr. Fehlings: The EBM committee has as its central mission the goal to foster the implementation of rigorous methodology to evaluate science evidence in the spine health care field. The EBM committee is diverse in many ways: age, gender, and professional background.

NASS: What are key goals of the upcoming year? Challenges?
Dr. Fehlings: The key goals are:
  1. Move the SI Joint guidelines project following GRADE processes
  2. Continue to roll out the GRADE Light teaching course
  3. Expand the scope of the EBM course offerings
  4. Continue to facilitate the work of the Clinical Practice Guidelines committee
NASS: What projects are you excited about? How are they of benefit to NASS members and spine professionals?
Dr. Fehlings: The goals in my response to question above all represent areas of excitement and impact. The roll out of the GRADE light course represents a great opportunity to implement GRADE methodology in NASS and could be leveraged to develop partnerships with other societies.

NASS: Are there any recent webinars, podcasts or courses you'd like to direct members to listen/watch/attend? What makes them unique?
Dr. Fehlings: The GRADE Light teaching module including the one hour recorded lecture. The EBM course which is always very well received.

NASS: What will the future hold for this Committee?
Dr. Fehlings: I envision a significant expansion in the EBM course which could be marketed externally to many key stakeholders in academia, in the health care industry (eg, payers, instrumentation companies) and to other societies. I envision facilitating the processes to roll out GRADE to all relevant NASS committees.