'I'm not sure if the healthcare landscape has ever seen a storm like this one,' surgeon says

Spine surgeon Philip Louie, MD, medical director of research and academics at Seattle-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, joined Becker's to discuss what he wishes his coworkers knew about his job. 

Editor's note: This interview was edited lightly for clarity and length. 

Question: What do you wish your coworkers knew about your job?

Dr. Phillip Louie: We are living through some unprecedented times. I'm not sure if the healthcare landscape has ever seen a storm like this one that includes: a pandemic, enormous financial losses, constrained environments due to short staffing and many other factors that are seemingly out of our control. And yet, we have more and more patients than ever to take care of, with fewer resources (and staff).

I don't think there is much I wish my coworkers knew about my job — but, rather I wish my coworkers understood how critical they each are for me to carry out the duties of my job. And perhaps I (and maybe WE) are not the best at letting our coworkers know this. 

Our front-line office staff are dealing with more patient encounters than ever — and are incredible at being the initial touch point for patients. Our inpatient nursing staff has been incredibly adaptive to care for all of our patients (who are now more nervous than just surgery recovery) despite the stressful changes of a dynamic pandemic. Our schedulers are incredibly creative in ensuring that we are caring for our patients in as timely of a manner as we can squeeze into the system. Our physician assistants and nurse practitioners carry the weight of the spine service on their shoulders. My surgical colleagues are my work family. My job isn't my job without them, and I certainly wouldn't want my job if I couldn't work with them. So that's it. I wish my coworkers knew how integral they are to our team and myself.

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