MEET THE AOSPINE MEMBERS
Improving the level of teaching and research-education in Latin America is what drives him forward. His biggest passion is to help people improve their performance and achieve their dreams. In this interview he talks about his motivations, the challenges to make education more egalitarian in his region, and tells why good time management is essential to personal happiness.
You recently won an award for bringing important contributions to Brazilian University Education. What does this award mean to you?
It was really a great honor to be one of the top five placed who were recognized for their performance in the fields of management, teaching, research, and social responsibility. It was the first time that this Merit Award from the Council of Brazilian University Presidents was granted. It motivates me to continue working to help raise the level of teaching and research-education in the country and in the region. Following this award, I was acknowledged for Scientific Merit by the University Council of Caxias do Sul University, and received the José Correia Picanço medal for a relevant contribution to medical education in Brazil from the Brazilian Society of History of Medicine.
Can you tell us a bit more about your activities in research and education?
My activities in research encompass education in research and performing research. Through the AOPEER program I am developing a curriculum to make it easier for spine surgeons to "Through the AOPEER program I am developing a curriculum to make it easier for spine surgeons to learn the fundamentals and advanced topics of research."learn the fundamentals and advanced topics of research. What inspired me about Education in Research is the opportunity to work with people who are motivated, skillful, and leaders from different clinical divisions and members of AOCID. We provide scientific tools and promote webinars and lectures to enable spine surgeons to evaluate their results and support patient selection and surgical planning.
The AO Program for Education and Excellence in Research (AOPEER) is a research education program to support surgeons in their clinical and translational research activities. I also coordinate the Health Science Master Degree Program at the Caxias do Sul University that works along with AOSpine Latin America to allow its members to train and perform research.
Is this where you thought you would end up? If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a spine surgeon?
The positions that I have held are beyond my hopes and dreams, and if I had to do it all over again, I would follow the same path. I have been preparing myself for surgery and education since my first semester at medical school. I knew that I would apply for Neurosurgery. I joined the Neuroscience research group, wrote four books about Neuroanatomy, Neurology, and Neurosurgery and published scientific papers. I did a one-year residence in Neurology and four years in Neurosurgery. After the residence, I had an amazing opportunity to do a fellowship at the Neurological Institute of Columbia University in New York. I enjoyed the challenge of the spine pathologies so much that I decided to leave the area of cranial surgery to my partners. Nowadays, it is even clearer that I made the right choice. Today I run the Health science post-graduation program and Neurosurgical Department at the Caxias do Sul University, and split my time between OR and the office, usually operating two or three days a week, 2-3 spine cases per day.
Who were your mentors and what were the best things that they have taught you?
I am fortunate to have had mentors at all stages of my life since I was at elementary school. They taught me right and wrong and the secrets to have a pleasant life. At the end of the day, the important things converge to being humble, working hard, following one's dreams, being honest, and responsible. The preceptors from the Neurology and Neurosurgery residence program and from the fellowship program at Columbia University influenced me most in my career. The most inspiring persons for life were my parents, because they not only told me the secrets to have a worthy life but they also showed them to me everyday with their examples and personality.
What achievement in your life are you most proud of?
The recognition of my work from well known and prestigious international societies is the principal achievement. I am proud of "The biggest challenge is to know the specific needs of each surgeon and to measure the efficacy of the education. We increased the number of online activities to be more egalitarian and provide education and training independent of the economical or political situation of their countries."having being elected International Liaison of AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, and Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. Nowadays, being Chair of AOSpine Latin America is very gratifying, allowing my to work with amazing professionals and to increase opportunities in education and research for spine surgeons. I am most proud of being the father of two wonderful kids and having a beautiful wife. It is very important to be an expert in time management to maintain a good balance between work, family, religion, and health.
What is the biggest challenge in the education of spine surgeons in Brazil in particular, and Latin America in general?
The goal of education is to fill the gap of knowledge or skill for each individual. The biggest challenge is to know the specific needs of each surgeon and to measure the efficacy of the education. In my region, it is necessary to think big, as Latin America. We increased the number of online activities to be more egalitarian and provide education and training independent of the economical or political situation of their countries. In the same way, the modality of in loco coaching will customize the training according to the surgeons' needs and the facilities of each spine center.
Do you see a generational difference in today's young surgeons?
I have 23 years' experience in teaching and over the years I have detected many changes in educational methods. I learn continuously with the new generation because they are critical and have innovative ideas. The new generation is used to high-speed information and they easily lose focus, so there is no space for long lectures. The educational methodology needs to be active and the new generation likes to have the knowledge readily available without the need of a fixed schedule, travel or accommodation. The changing personality of the new students over time induces the educators to think outside of the box.
What do you think will be the biggest development in spinal surgery in the coming years and how do you prepare young surgeons for it when you teach?
The advances of diagnostic technology combined with the greater understanding of patients' signs and symptoms will promote a better selection of the patients for surgery or conservative surgery. New technologies increase the surgical options for management and the safety of the procedures. The technology increases the "At the end of the day, the important things converge to being humble, working hard, following one's dreams, being honest, and responsible."location of the pathology, allows safer decompression, and enables accurate positioning of the instruments and material. Robotic surgery will become more widespread. Before using it, surgeons need to critically evaluate the new techniques. It is critical to perform a neurologic examination, to have an agreement between the clinical symptoms and the radiologic image, to learn how to work as a team, and to have training in endoscopic and minimally invasive surgery.
How do you inspire young surgeons? In your opinion what makes a good leader?
My biggest passion is to help people improve their performance and achieve their dreams. I inspire the young surgeons by showing that it is feasible to pursue a brilliant carrier. They see me as honest, "My biggest passion is to help people improve their performance and achieve their dreams."with high ethical standards, and a humble person, always ready to help and motivated to teach. They usually trust me because I act everyday in the way I have told them to act. They also inspire me every day, when I see a smile of happiness in a student, resident or fellow related to something that they have learned and could correctly apply or perform.
You have been active with AOSpine since 2010 - what do you believe we have to offer young surgeons?
AOSpine is a unique organization with a high number of experienced and leading surgeons that provide information with credibility. AOSpine allows the members to have a worldwide network connection between the spine surgeons and brings together the youngest surgeons with the leaders of spine surgery. Besides, the educational methods used in AOSpine course are highly active and the faculties well trained.
Find out more about AOPEER
AOPEER is a membership privilege.
Asdrubal Falavigna biography Asdrubal Falavigna is Professor of Neurosurgery at Caxias do Sul University and Coordinator of Health Science Post-Graduation in Medicine since 2016. He is also the coordinator of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) research group on Clinical Studies and Basic Models of Spinal Cord Diseases and Coordinator of the Laboratory of Spinal Cord Diseases and Laboratory of Cellular Therapy. Since 2013 Dr Falavigna has worked as Councilor of the Regional Council of Medicine of Rio Grande do Sul and his academic accomplishments led to his appointment as Dean of the Medical School at the University of Caxias do Sul from 2008 to 2016. An international leader, Dr Falavigna has served as International Liaison of AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves since 2016. Since 2014 he is a Member of Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. Since 2004 he is an international member of AANS and CNS.Dr Falavigna is Chair of AOSpine Latin America.
Two Merit awards and a medal for advancing medical education in Brazil
Newsletter 15 | March 2018
Newsletter 15 March 2018
MEET THE AOSPINE MEMBERS