gregory lopez- peerspectrum

Image courtesy of Dr. Gregory Lopez

Name: Gregory Lopez, MD

Location: Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, Chicago, IL

Specialty: Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

“If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.” -Violinist, Jascha Heifetz


Today we have a fun episode for you. Dr. Gregory Lopez is orthopedic spine surgeon in Chicago with Midwest Orthopedics at Rush. He’s a former collegiate and minor league baseball player who’s experienced his fair share of injuries. It’s those experiences that inspired his path toward medicine. He’s also an innovator and that’s where are story gets fun.

As a baseball player, Greg recognized the critical importance of regular practice. During residency, Greg uncovered a real need for more hands on surgical practice. Unfortunately, time was limited and cadavers and bone models are expensive. So Greg decided to build his own surgical simulator to help his peers (and himself) improve basic psychomotor skills. Surgical simulators are complex and expensive, so where did Greg go to start his project? A large medical device company, a sawbones manufacturer, kick-starter maybe?

Nope, Greg headed right over to his local Home Depot and started shopping. As we’ll learn, Greg (along with several colleagues) created a simple, yet elegant system for practicing basic surgical hand skills, all for about $350 bucks! Today this system is used in teaching hospitals around the country and around the world.

We’re going to learn all about it and we’re going to explore the broader challenges related to medical education and maintenance of skills.

Show notes:

-Had a great orthopedic surgeon in high school.

-Drafted by the Blue Jays

-Post concussion syndrome.

-Spinal fusion in college.

-Overcoming uncertainty. Is medical school really the right choice?

-How sports can create a resilient positive attitude.

-Connecting with patients and the power of empathy.

-Being a collegiate shortstop and getting drafted after a spinal fusion.

-Dr. Lopez’s philosophy on minimally invasive surgery.

-The $350 surgical simulator with parts from Home Depot.

-As a 2nd year resident, Lopez recognized a need for more hands on practice.

-How complex movements can be broken into simple skills.

-Objectively quantifying practice progression.

-Practicing for game-day:

-Walking around Home Depot looking for parts.

-A little competition. How Lopez’s simulator created a spirit of competition.

-20 to 30 sets being used worldwide.

-Basic field skills of a shortstop and basic surgical skills.

-Fielding a ground ball; just like suturing and drill penetration!

-Sometimes, a weekend course is not enough.

-Filling the void between new skills and proficiency.

-Could surgical simulators be used a proficiency test? Maintenance of skills?

-Better than a written test?

-Returning to practice after an injury, military deployment or sabbatical?

-“In baseball, it was never the game that got you better.”

-Is technology helping or hurting the development of skills?

ut of fellowship. Getting started in practice.

Links and notes:

Jascha Heifetz

“Construct Validity for a Cost-effective Arthroscopic Surgery Simulator for Resident Education.”

“A cost-effective junior resident training and assessment simulator for orthopaedic surgical skills via fundamentals of orthopaedic surgery: AAOS exhibit selection.”

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