NASS On Spine

July 05, 2016

Q & A With Andrew Sumich, MD

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

I was born and grew up in Metairie, LA, just outside New Orleans. I have been living in Charlotte, NC since 2002.

2. What is your educational background?

I graduated from Texas Christian University in 1997 and LSU School of Medicine in 2001. I did my residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. That was followed by my fellowship in Interventional Spine with Dave O'Brien at Orthopedics Specialists of the Carolinas in Winston-Salem, NC.

3. Tell us a little bit about your practice/specialty …

I have been practicing as a physiatrist with Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates for the last decade. We are the largest private neurosurgical practice in the country. My practice focuses on non-surgical management of musculoskeletal and spine disorders.

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

I have been a member of NASS since 2005 during my fellowship. Dr. O'Brien was involved with NASS at the time with the coding committee. I quickly joined and soon began serving as an instructor for cadaver courses.

5. What do you think is the most pressing issue or issues in spine care today?

Spine providers, like most of medicine, are faced with an evolving landscape that is filled with uncertainty. The biggest issue we face is remaining focused on patient care while we negotiate shifts in payment models, outcomes driven care and growing regulatory burdens.

6. What advice would you give to a young, aspiring spine doctor (or spine care provider)?

While sometimes the business and politics of medicine may seem overwhelming, remember the patient. You will never regret caring for and prioritizing the patient.

7. You recently had a positive advocacy experience with Congressman Rob Pittenger (R-NC) where you helped educate him on the vital need for medical liability reform. What was the biggest thing you learned from that encounter?

What an eye opener it was for me to see how even a little bit of involvement can lead to real results. By going to one event and spending time with the congressman, it helped to produce tangible results led by (NASS advocacy director) Jordan (Abushawish) and our DC team. All of us could potentially have a positive effect on policy at some level.

8. As a health care provider, why is it important to be involved in advocacy issues on behalf of physicians?

The reality is that if we don't look out for ourselves and advocate what is best for our profession and our patients, then no one else will. Every player in the health care world has their own agenda and are pushing forward. Ours will get lost if we are not proactive in promoting it.

9. Why should members attend NASS meetings?

I have found NASS meetings to be very educational and from a non-surgical perspective I have enjoyed the exposure to a wide of array of spine care topics. But, perhaps the most important aspect for me is spending time with and developing mutually beneficial relationships with spine care providers from around the country.

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

I have beautiful wife of 15 years, Jamie, and we have an 8-year-old and 5-year-old who keep us wonderfully busy and entertained. Outside of that I love to travel and enjoy fitness (and sneak in as much golf as possible!).


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