By: 24 August 2020
Surgeon Focus – Khawar Siddique

Dr Siddique is a board-certified neurosurgeon at DOCS Spine and Orthopaedics in Los Angeles, specialising in minimally invasive spinal surgeries related to work injuries, motor vehicle accidents, failed previous surgeries and complex spinal ailments.


SSN: As a specialist in spine surgery, could you tell us more about your experience and training background in this field?

KS: I chose neurosurgery as my primary specialty, then focused on spine surgery during the six year neurosurgery residency. After those six years, I did an additional year of spine surgery fellowship.


SSN: What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and spinal surgery in particular?

KS: Since I was 12 years old, I have told people I wanted to do neurosurgery. Not because of any particular personal experience, but because that specialty was considered one of the most competitive and difficult. I knew at that age that I wanted to be challenged in anything that I did. The decision to do spine surgery came during residency because spine surgery is arguably the sub-speciality of neurosurgery that produces the best outcomes.


SSN: How has your working practice changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?

KS: We are busier than ever because we quickly adapted to COVID-19 safety protocols. DOCS Spine + Orthopedics offers a safe environment for patients to have peace of mind when they have a non-invasive treatment, or even surgery.

We own and operate our own surgery centre (DOCS Surgery Center) and hospital (DOCS Surgical Hospital), which do not treat or see people who may have, or are positive with, COVID-19. When the major hospitals temporarily discontinued elective surgery to save space for COVID-19 patients, we continued to do essential cases with the permission of the California Department of Health.


SSN: How does the future look for minimally invasive spine surgery and what impact will it have on patient experience?

KS: Minimally invasive spine surgery, known as MISS, is a catch-all phrase that includes many types of procedures. For us, MISS means outpatient spine surgery that has predictable and positive outcomes. Not only does the patient experience include the positive surgical outcome, but also a positive experience with our staff and the facilities.


SSN: What’s the best part of your job?

KS: Our patient satisfaction rates are overwhelmingly positive


SSN: … and the worst?

KS: The hardest part of any business is finding and training the right team. Our employee turnover rate is lower than average, but it can still be a challenging process.


SSN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

KS: DOCS Spine + Orthopedics’ growth in 14 years. We went from two surgeons to a multi-specialty clinic that owns multiple medical real estate properties, a specialty surgical hospital, and ambulatory surgery centre.


SSN: If you weren’t a spine surgeon what would you be?

KS: My second job is co-CEO of our group, ASC, and hospital. It turns out that I love the business side of medicine as much as medicine itself!


SSN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

KS: I always have been focused. But, I would tell any 21-year-old that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you must be the hardest working person.


SSN: If you were Health Minister for the day what changes would you implement?

KS: Access to health care (i.e. the uninsured and underinsured rates) must be improved. I would start with that.


SSN: Away from the clinic and operating theatre – what do you do to relax?

KS: When I’m not working, I enjoy sharing dinner and sport activities with friends and family.


SSN: How do you think the future looks in the field of spine surgery?

KS: For the foreseeable future, spine surgery will continue to be a specialty that will improve in patient outcomes and innovation. We are investing heavily in this specialty for those reasons.