Meet Jeffrey C. Wang, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, chief of orthopaedic spine service at the Keck Medicine of USC and co-director of the USC Spine Center.
Dr. Wang is an international leader in spine care, with expertise in the surgical treatment of all neck and back disorders. Here’s what you won’t find on his resume:
He’s an avid sportsman.
“I love sports and I’ve always participated in all types of different activities. If you name the sport, I’ve given it a try. Obviously, I’ve not made it to the professional level in any of those sports, but I find them very enjoyable.”
For him, physical and mental fitness go hand in hand.
“I still play a lot of basketball. I still exercise every day. I think that’s the way to stay young. I’m very into physical fitness and working out. I think being in good shape physically also helps you mentally quite a bit.”
His occupation is more than just a job.
“I’ve only had one job in my life. … The surgeries themselves, the procedures themselves, the instrumentation we use, the use of the microscope and the delicacy that we need to use around the spinal cord, for me, is just fascinating. It’s really what inspires me, and I think at the end of the day, you want to do the thing that excites you the most.”
Every patient is unique, and surgery isn’t always the answer.
“Not all patients need surgery. Not all patients will need my services as a spine surgeon. … There are a lot of people who will get better with conservative treatments, and you have to be able to provide those for the patient.
“Our goal is to make the patient experience the best that it can be. Patients with spinal disorders can call our center, we can figure out what their problem is and treat it appropriately. … Our vision for the USC Spine Center is to bring people together and treat that patient as a whole.”
He thinks the spine is beyond compare.
“I would call the spine higher priced real estate. If there’s a problem with the spine and it affects the nerves, it can cause a huge amount of dysfunction. Every patient is different. Every patient is delicate. The problems that we see in patients who have spinal disorders are some of the most interesting that I’ve seen in my entire life.”
The greatest reward comes from helping patients get back to doing what they love.
“I remember a particular college football player who was injured on the field. He had temporary paralysis. We found that he had a problem in his neck, and he really could not play football as long as that problem was there. We made a tough decision to do the surgery. Thankfully, he did great. He recovered well and he’s back on the field playing this season. When I see things like that, I find that very rewarding.”
He enjoys California living.
“If you live in California, you have to take advantage of being outdoors. I love being outdoors. I love going to the beach. Just being able to take in the surroundings, the fresh air at the beach and see the ocean — I think as long as you live here you have to take advantage of that.”
He’s a family man.
“My family is very, very important to me. My wife and my two children are the primary reasons why I do all of this. I spend all my time with my family and making sure that we’re cohesive as a unit.”
Dr. Jeffrey C. Wang is the co-director of the USC Spine Center.