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Spotlight: Neurosurgeon Stephen Haines, MD, is passionate about helping patients through difficult moments

We spoke with Neurosurgeon Stephen Haines, MD, to learn more about his work and his vision for our neurosurgery services.
Though many of the patients Neurosurgeon Stephen Haines, MD, sees have complex, challenging conditions that greatly impact their lives, Haines is often able to return them to fully functional living.
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Neurosurgeon Stephen Haines, MD, finds fulfillment in helping his patients through particularly difficult moments in their lives. 

Haines, the chair of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neurosurgery, fuses the latest in medical research and innovation with compassionate patient care. Though many of the neurosurgical patients he sees have complex, challenging conditions that greatly impact their lives, Haines is often able to return them to fully functional living.

We caught up with Haines to learn more about his work and his vision for our neurosurgery services. 

Describe your leadership role within M Health, including some of your notable accomplishments. 

I lead the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neurosurgery and am a member of the University of Minnesota Physicians Board of Directors. Our department has grown from three neurosurgeons in 2003 to eight neurosurgeons now. Our clinical, residency, fellowship and research programs are all significantly stronger than they were then. 

Why are you passionate about your profession? 

We have the opportunity to help people through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We are frequently able to return them to fully functional lives when their future may have initially seemed very bleak.

Describe your vision of neurosurgery today, and in the future at M Health.  

This is best expressed in our department’s 2033 vision statement: “Neurosurgical patients in Minnesota receive the safest and best care in the nation. We are a destination for those seeking outstanding neurosurgical care. We produce important innovations in neurosurgery and train the neurosurgical leaders of tomorrow.”

Learn more about University of Minnesota Health neurosurgery services.

What role does evidence-based medicine play in your work? Why is evidence-based medicine important to you? To your patients? 

When we treat a patient, it is important that we have good evidence to show that our proposed treatments will work. This is particularly important in neurosurgery because our treatments are often complex and potentially risky. Our job is to understand the best available evidence, apply it artfully to individual patients and continuously build upon the evidence base for neurosurgical practice.

What makes your work memorable? Are there any specific moments you often recall?

Recently, I carried out a procedure to relieve a patient’s trigeminal neuralgia, which is one of the worst and most disabling pain syndromes a person can have. After the procedure, that patient asked the recovery room nurse to thank me for giving life back to her. Doesn’t happen every day, but it feels great!

What do you respect about the M Health community?

I am impressed that so many people work so hard to provide excellent health care in such a complex system.


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