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AANS Spotlight

Ann R. Stroink, MD, FAANS Retires from Neurological Surgery

By AANS Spotlight, CareerNo Comments

Ann R. Stroink, MD, FAANS, a neurosurgeon at the forefront of advocacy efforts, retired from neurosurgery practice at Carle BroMenn Medical Center on Nov. 22, 2023. Throughout her career, Dr. Stroink has been an indefatigable force in advocating — in the halls of Congress, before the Illinois state legislature, with health plans and within organized medicine — for sound health policy to ensure patients have timely access to care. Throughout her career, she held critical leadership roles within organized neurosurgery, including president of the Illinois State Neurosurgical Society, chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Council of State Neurosurgical Societies, chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee for Neurological Surgery and AANS president.

Following her retirement from active neurosurgical practice, Dr. Stroink has taken on another crucial role, serving as the interim CEO of the AANS. “It’s an exciting opportunity to lead the most prestigious neurosurgical organization in the world,” said Dr. Stroink. “I’m really looking forward to my stint.”

Carle Health highlights Dr. Stroink’s dedication and contributions to their organization, pointing out that her affiliation with Carle BroMenn Hospital (then Brokaw Hospital) began when her father, Hans Stroink, MD, was a pathologist. Said Dr. Stroink,

I started working in the lab and that’s where I got the buzz. I performed autopsies with my father, but the first time I saw live tissue, I knew I wasn’t going to do anything else. I’m very happy to have served patients for years.

Dr. Stroink assisted her father from seventh grade until she left for college, maintaining a connection to Carle throughout her career, given the need for neurosurgical services in her community.

She also made her mark as a female neurosurgeon. Dr. Stroink attended Southern Illinois School of Medicine, the first U.S. school to enroll 30% of women. “Having already decided to make my career in medicine, I was acutely aware of the barriers to getting into medical school as a female,” states Dr. Stroink. On the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX in 2022, she shared her experiences on gender equity in neurosurgery in the California Association of Neurological Surgeons newsletter.

Dr. Stroink was the first woman to enter the neurosurgical residency program at the Mayo Clinic. “I’m really grateful to the Mayo Clinic because they didn’t have to accept a woman, but they did,” said Dr. Stroink. “I was very happy to be a resident. Even though it was a new experience for them to train a female resident, it was a benefit for them and me.”

In 1985, Dr. Stroink founded the Central Illinois Neuro Health Sciences practice in Bloomington, Ill. She spearheaded the creation of a neurosurgery resident program at the hospital and considers teaching doctors essential and one of her favorite parts of her work.

We wish Dr. Stroink all the best in her retirement from practicing neurological surgery.

Editor’s Note: We hope you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to join the conversation on Twitter by following @Neurosurgery and @NeurosurgeryRE and using the hashtag #Neurosurgery.

Highlighting the Global Influence of Women in Neurosurgery

By AANS Spotlight, Cross Post, Women in NeurosurgeryNo Comments

From time to time on Neurosurgery Blog, you will see us cross-posting or linking to items from other sources that we believe are relevant to our audience. Since this week featured International Women’s Day, we wanted to bring your attention to the March 2021 Neurosurgical Focus issue on International Women Leaders in Neurosurgery: Past and Present exploring women’s roles in neurosurgery over the years.

Topics include the impact of culture and history on women’s progress and the global influence of women in neurosurgery. Historical reports highlight noteworthy examples of women neurosurgeons around the globe who have demonstrated vision and leadership. The series discusses the presence of women neurosurgeons at the podium at scientific and medical society gatherings and the emerging roles of women as leaders in international organizations. Various aspects of research are described, including funding gaps and publication rates.

The series proposes strategies to expand opportunities for success for women neurosurgeons. A future that actively encourages the best and brightest medical students to choose neurosurgical careers — regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation or identity, socioeconomic strata or any other individual defining characteristic — will best serve the needs of the profession and patients.

Read the following articles in the series:


Editor’s note: We hope that you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to be part of the conversation on Twitter by following @Neurosurgery and using the hashtag #WomenInNeurosurgery

AANS Neurosurgeon Spotlight: The State of Neurosurgical Education

By AANS Spotlight, Burnout, COVID-19, GMENo Comments

Recent global circumstances have had considerable effects on neurosurgery. In the latest articles from AANS Neurosurgeon, the official socioeconomic publication of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), authors discuss the state of neurosurgical education. Practices have taken steps to not only adapt to a multitude of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but to thrive among them, while helping their patients do the same. Browse the Education issue for a scientific, artistic and realistic view from those tasked with providing and navigating valuable educational experiences during a time when there is no such thing as “normal.”

Article Spotlight

This Crisis is an Opportunity
Lola B. Chambless, MD, FAANS

Dr. Chambless explains how the pandemic has provided an unprecedented opportunity to study, learn and reform.

A Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship
Jason Savage, MD ꟾ Michael P. Steinmetz, MD, FAANS

Discover the makings of a successful spine fellowship – strong leadership, constant re-evaluation and a collaborative surgeon group.

Pen versus Penfield: A Proposed New Training Modality for Neurosurgery Residents
Erin N. D’Agostino, MD

Dr. D’Agostino describes how art “can serve a role in surgical skill building, learning and teaching of anatomy, patient education and combating burnout.”

Read More

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The Global Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Neurosurgical Practice (Part III)

By AANS Spotlight, COVID-19, Faces of Neurosurgery, HealthNo Comments

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS) Publishing Group are pleased to announce the publication of four editorials on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neurosurgical practice. This batch of editorials concludes our rapid-response collection on this topic. Altogether the collection boasts 19 papers, an introduction and 18 editorials, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics or Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. All of the articles are posted online, and they will also be accessible by PubMed Central as part of the Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Initiative.

The following articles cover neurosurgeons’ experiences and lessons learned thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Xiaoguang Tong, MD, and Yuanfan Yang, MD, discuss precautions taken at Huanhu Hospital in Tianjin, China, for performing emergency cerebrovascular procedures during the pandemic. All patients entering the emergency department are assumed to have COVID-19 until proven otherwise. The hospital rearranged equipment and facilities to isolate patients throughout their treatment. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) — including N95 masks, face shields, goggles and full gown — were worn by all health care workers. Extra layers of face protection were worn during emergency intubation. Whenever possible, minimally invasive procedures were performed. Additional steps to protect health care workers and patients are also covered in this editorial. The authors state the precautions resulted in no infections among the health care workers and patients.

Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, MD, FAANS, and coauthors representing multiple academic institutions throughout the U.S. and Canada weigh in on the overall impact of COVID-19 on neurosurgical practice. The authors discuss the conservation of skilled staff, the heightened risk of some neurosurgical approaches, postponement of elective cases, the necessity of wearing appropriate PPE and the need to convert some specialty facilities into treatment sites for COVID-19 patients. The authors also share resources for neurosurgeons during the pandemic offered by the AANS, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American College of Surgeons and additional societies.

Adair Prall, MD, FAANS, FACS, John D. Davis, IV, MD, FAANS, and N. Ross Jenkins, MD, FAANS, share their insights on changes in community practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. As independent private practitioners, these authors describe how disorienting it has been to suddenly have “many decisions made for them and [be] required to limit, change, or stop altogether their workflow.” The authors mention new ways of treating patients using phone or video conversations. They also discuss how hospital or ambulatory surgery center administrators may view urgent and elective surgeries differently from surgeons, and how neurosurgeons must advocate for patients whose conditions may not appear urgent but indeed are so. Lastly, the authors speak to the issue of small business ownership during the pandemic, dealing with a reduced caseload and income while trying to retain skilled employees.

A neurosurgical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, Victoria Clark, MD, PhD, describes the experience of being locked out of the lab during the pandemic. Being unable to continue lab benchwork, she evaluates other avenues of research that can be followed by the resident at this time — such as working on bioinformatics-based projects or chart-based/clinical analyses or focusing on scientific writing. Laboratory research is extremely important overall, and an integral part of residency training, and Dr. Clark offers several suggestions on how labs can be reopened and neurosurgical research can continue using safe, socially distant methods.

Join us in reading these free articles.

Editor’s note: We hope that you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to be part of the conversation on Twitter by following and using the hashtag #COVID19.

The Global Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Neurosurgical Practice (Part II)

By AANS Spotlight, COVID-19, Faces of Neurosurgery, HealthNo Comments

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group are pleased to announce the publication of eleven new editorials on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neurosurgical practice. The series kicked off last week with three editorials and an introduction on the subject, which were published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

Last week we heard from neurosurgeons in the United States, Canada, Italy and China on the impact of the pandemic on neurosurgical practice. This week’s installment adds editorials from the U.S., Republic of Korea and Singapore.

The editorials cover a wide variety of important areas demonstrating the impact of COVID-19 on the practice and training of neurosurgeons. Although other fields of medicine more readily come to mind when considering the battle against the virus known as SARS-CoV-2, neurosurgical practice has also had to adapt swiftly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following articles cover neurosurgeons’ experiences and lessons learned thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Join us in reading these free articles.

Editor’s note: We hope that you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to be part of the conversation on Twitter by following and using the hashtag #COVID19.

The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Neurosurgical Practice

By AANS Spotlight, COVID-19, Faces of Neurosurgery, HealthNo Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted medical practice across the globe. The effects are most notable in the fields of infectious disease, virology, emergency and critical care medicine, and epidemiology. Other medical specialties, including neurosurgery, however, are also impacted.

To highlight the effect of the pandemic on the neurosurgery practice, the Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group (JNSPG), the scholarly journal division of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, is releasing a series of editorials on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of neurosurgery.

Douglas S. Kondziolka, MD, FAANS; William T. Couldwell, MD, PhD, FAANS; and James T. Rutka, MD, PhD, FAANS, introduce the series and highlight the impact the pandemic has had on neurosurgical practice. Three editorials are available, and additional papers on this topic will appear each Friday, so be sure to check back weekly.

Yirui Sun, MD, PhD, and Ying Mao, MD, PhD, provide an update on the pandemic in China. They speak of colleagues lost and the efforts of neurosurgeons to treat emergency cases regardless of the viral status of their patients. The authors also discuss how COVID-19 has given them “pause to reinforce [their] skillsets and redesign [their] mindsets to perform roles not only as neurosurgeons but also as executive officers.”

Marco Cenzato, MD, and colleagues speak from the Lombardy region of Italy. They describe a reorganization of neurosurgical facilities to expand the number of ICUs available to COVID-19 patients. Fifteen neurosurgical departments were temporarily consolidated into three locations, with neurosurgeons and patients shifted as well. As a result, “opening the hospital doors to neurosurgeons coming from other institutions has offered an unprecedented opportunity of collaboration and integration of teams.”

Leaders of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons address current management of COVID-19 in the pediatric neurosurgery community and provide recommendations on the preparation and response to the pandemic. Crucial areas addressed in their recommendations include children’s hospitals as a whole, operating rooms, pediatric neurosurgery clinical teams, and patients. Serious illness remains relatively rare among children with COVID-19. Nevertheless, the authors warn against complacency and stress the need for urgency in preparation and response to the pandemic.

Neurosurgeries must be prioritized, delaying less urgent cases so that increased hospital facilities and equipment can be made available for patients with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in the lives of people across the world. The numbers of cases and deaths from the disease continue to climb at a rapid pace. Many deaths have occurred among health care workers. On both a personal and professional level, the JNSPG editors acknowledge, with sadness, the passing of fellow neurosurgeon James T. Goodrich, MD, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City, from complications related to COVID-19 on March 30, 2020.

AANS Neurosurgeon Spotlight: Winter 2020 – The Mind of a Neurosurgeon Part III

By AANS Spotlight, Career, Faces of Neurosurgery, Food for thoughtNo Comments

From training appraisal to relocation, authors explore the neurosurgeon perspective in AANS Neurosurgeon’s The Mind of a Neurosurgeon. Prominent neurosurgeons discuss their unique experiences in a field in which few have the opportunity to work and thrive.

Changing Gears: Mid-Career Relocation as a Catalyst for Better Patient Care
Daniel Orringer, MD, FAANS

  • Inspirational leadership; state-of-the-art facilities; a cumbersome electronic medical record; affiliation with a top-notch medical school; and a culture and history of excellence.
  • Navigating geographic change – from Ann Arbor to New York.
  • Navigating institutional change – evaluating essential components of a routine.
  • A new team – leading with the patients’ interest in mind.

The Mindful Neurosurgeon and the Art of Doing What’s Right
Edward C. Benzel, MD, FAANS

  • The desire for personal gratification, professional advancement and monetary gain can lead one to their neurosurgical calling.
  • The mindful neurosurgeon does not look at a job from the perspective of the job being a commodity generator, but from the perspective of the job as a calling.
  • Good leaders are selfless guides, reflective and empathetic.
  • The truly mindful neurosurgeon values doing what is right over all else.

Building the Neurosurgical Mind: Critical Appraisal in Neurosurgical Training
Beverly C. Walters, MD

  • Neurosurgical training goals focus on specialty knowledge acquisition, development of technical skills involving eye-hand coordination, learning how to collect important patient data and enhancement of critical thinking ability.
  • Look at the structure of research that tries to promote changes in practice to develop skills in evaluation of data and to be able to decide, factually, whether the ideas are worthy of inclusion in clinical practice – or, more importantly, if they are not worthy.
  • This basic concept of understanding the successes and failures of clinical research in our specialty and development of the ability to use data in the treatment of patients became known at the end of the twentieth century as evidence-based medicine.

Read More from The Mind of a Neurosurgeon.

AANS Neurosurgeon Spotlight: Winter 2020 – The Mind of a Neurosurgeon Part II

By AANS Spotlight, MedEd, Medical Liability, MentoringNo Comments

Articles in the latest issue of AANS Neurosurgeon: “The Mind of a Neurosurgeon” take on the daunting task of better understanding what makes us tick! Many of the best and brightest have graciously considered aspects of this question and shared their poignant thoughts:

The Case for Mindfulness and Compassion

James R. Doty, MD, FAANS

  • Focus Lost. Every moment in surgery can be critical, right to the very end.
  • Focus Regained. I am working blind, so I open my heart to a possibility beyond reason, beyond skill and I begin to do what I was taught decades ago, not in residency, not in medical school, but in the back room of a small magic shop in the California desert.
  • For some it manifests as forgetfulness. Others experience compassion fatigue. Some experience moral injury and completely lose their motivation to serve their patients. In the worst cases, as defined by the ICD-10, physician’s burnout results in a state of vital exhaustion.
  • Being able to apply mindfulness training and a self-compassionate attitude to my profession gave me permission to attend to my own health and well-being.

The Impact of Medical Review Panels

Jennifer Kosty, MD; Bowen Jiang, MD; Devon LeFever; Jared R. Broughman; Frederick White, MD; Katie O. Orrico, JD; Bharat Guthikonda, MD, FAANS

  • Between 1990 and 2010, the National Practitioner Data Bank estimated malpractice and liability claims from adverse surgical events to be over $1.3 billion.
  • The Medical Review Panel (MRP) and Patient’s Compensation Fund are completely self-funded by physician participants, filing fees and investment income.
  • Once initiated, the panel has a 180-day period to render a decision with three possible outcomes: (1) Evidence demonstrates breach of the standard of care; (2) Evidence does not demonstrate breach of the standard of care; or (3) A question of fact exists bearing on the issue of liability which does not require expert opinion and therefore the MRP cannot render a decision.
  • Although the MRP has largely been beneficial for Louisiana, not all states have had similar experiences.

Inspiring Diverse Minds: The Value of Online Mentorship

Tiffany Ejikeme; Jennifer A. Sweet, MD, FAANS

  • Mentoring has been shown to be the most important factor for medical students in their choice of a specialty.
  • One specific challenge to mentorship relates to diversity. I have not come across many neurosurgeons who look like me, a black woman.
  • Staff physicians must relate to their students beyond the academic scope to form more authentic and effective relationships.
  • Further complicating the mentorship equation is how the medical student experience has evolved with the advent of technology.
  • Supporting efforts like WINS’ online mentorship portal, will help foster and develop mentorship relationships for students around the world.

Alternative Mind: How Non-traditional Experiences Enrich Neurosurgical Training Part 2

Juliana C. Rotter, MD; Avital Perry, MD; Christopher S. Graffeo, MD

  • Advanced communication skills and training are a crucial skill brought to neurosurgery by those coming in with background in business, administration or leadership.
  • The military mindset has a number of enriching elements including discipline to prioritize mission first as well as creating routinized procedures for debriefing, preparation and review.
  • Taken together, the less-traveled pathways have the potential to improve communication, diversify the collective skillset, enhance leadership and maintain the essential focus on the needs of the patient.


AANS Neurosurgeon Spotlight: Winter 2020 – The Mind of a Neurosurgeon

By AANS Spotlight, GME, Loss of Life, MedEd, Voices of Neurosurgery DepartmentsNo Comments

In The Mind of a Neurosurgeon, join authors as they discuss navigating life as a neurosurgeon. From work-life balance to processing loss, pursuing creative outlets to the responsibility of training the next generation, neurosurgeons have a unique calling that leads to a special life serving others. Browse the articles and step into the mind of a neurosurgeon for stimulating conversations about the alternate mind, retirement, mindfulness, the outsider’s perspective, music and much more.

Check back later in January and February for more on The Mind of a Neurosurgeon. Here are just a few articles out now:

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