NASS On Spine

June 05, 2018

Q&A With Deeptee Jain, MD

1. What is your hometown and where do you currently live?

I am originally from Milwaukee, WI. I live in San Francisco, but will be moving to New York in a few weeks.

2. What is your educational background?

I went to undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied economics. I went to medical school at Duke University, and I am finishing up my orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco. I will be joining New York University as a spine surgery fellow this summer.

3. How long have you been a NASS member and why did you join?

I have been a NASS member for two years. I joined because I share NASS' commitments to improving access to and quality of spine care through research, education and advocacy. The experience thus far has been tremendous - I have had access to excellent resources and have established relationships and a network with other spine care providers.

4. As a member of the NASS Advocacy Committee, you recently were in Washington DC for the annual conference with numerous politicians discussing health care policy. What were your biggest takeaways from the event?

I learned that as spine care providers, it is imperative that we maintain a voice to ensure that we take the best care of our patients. Legislators make decisions that substantially impact how we practice medicine and surgery, but they don't always have experience directly taking care of patients. By participating in the process, we have an opportunity to educate legislators about issues that we and our patients face on a daily basis and offer input on solutions.

5. You have done pro-bono work performing surgeries in third world African countries. Please tell us about that experience and why you’d recommend it to other physicians.

UCSF is committed to global leadership, and as such, encourages us as part of our surgical training to visit a developing country. I had the opportunity to travel to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where UCSF has a strong collaboration with the surgeons at the Muhimbilli Orthopaedic Institute. Together, we exchanged our experiences and education. I taught surgeons modern soft tissue approaches, and they taught me how to find creative surgical solutions in a resource-poor environment.
The experience was a moving, eye-opening one; we treated patients every day with limb threatening injuries and severe spinal cord injuries. I recommend that other Western trained surgeons spend time in developing nations to directly care for patients in need, and also educate providers in that country to foster an international community and provide sustainability of surgical care.

6. In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing spine care providers today?

One of the greatest limitations in spine care today is that we have a long way to go to fully understand the pathogenesis of spinal disorders, and especially the etiology of back pain. As a result, we are treating spine problems similar to the way we did 10 or even 20 years ago, often involving fusion. And while nerve related symptoms can be reliably improved with intervention, the results regarding back pain are more unpredictable. We also have to treat the long term consequences of surgery, namely adjacent segment disease or proximal junctional kyphosis. Future research will be aimed at better understanding the underlying mechanisms of spinal disorders to allow for more novel, targeted treatment strategies.

7. Social media is becoming more prevalent every day in our world. Do you use social media at all professionally and if so, which platforms do you prefer?

I am pretty new at using social media professionally. I recently started to build an Instagram profile: deepteejainmd. I think it remains to be seen how doctors can best engage with social media platforms, but I am giving it a shot!

8. What is your opinion of the way the health care industry is currently covered in the media?

Unfortunately, I think much of the media specifically regarding spine care has negative undertones and it is often misunderstood. The media sometimes promises an outcome without a true understanding of the complexity of spinal pathology. I think it is our responsibility as providers to educate our patients and our communities about the spectrum of disease and the treatment options, relying on evidenced-base care.

9. What do you do for relaxation in your down time (example: hobbies, sports, travel)?

I like to run, bike and swim. My orthopaedic colleagues are all very fit, and they provide constant motivation to stay active.
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