Get to Know: UVA Spinal Surgeon Nevan Baldwin, MD, FACS

At a Glance: 

  • Title: Professor of Surgery
  • Fellowship: Reconstructive Spinal Surgery and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, University of New Mexico
  • Residency: Neurological Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Medical Degree: State University of New York at Buffalo

Nevan Baldwin, MD, came to Virginia from Lubbock, Texas, to launch a UVA neurosurgery practice at Haymarket Medical Center, part of Novant Health UVA Health System. The 60-bed acute care hospital was opened in 2014.

What drew you to UVA Health System?

There were a number of factors. As a spinal neurosurgeon in Lubbock, I did a great deal of trauma center coverage. Trauma center work is rewarding, but it also means that your schedule can be disrupted and patient wait times go up because you can be pulled out of the office. When the opportunity came up to open a neurosurgery practice in Haymarket, I jumped at it. I wanted to be in a situation where I could give my undivided attention to my patients. I had a vision of building a practice designed from the ground up to promote the best possible patient experience. When I explained my ideas to the leadership at UVA and Haymarket Hospital, they were extremely receptive.

You talk about creating “a maximum patient experience.” What do you mean by that?

When patients leave the office, I want them to feel that their entire experience was as good as it could possibly have been. This means that they were treated promptly and with respect at the reception desk, that they were seen quickly, that they received a thorough, attentive exam and that they left with a clear explanation of their condition and a good understanding of the next steps.

What does it take to deliver that kind of experience?

By far, the most important consideration is staff. You have to find exceptional people, create a working environment that supports their best efforts and establish a culture of caring for the patient. When I interview candidates for positions in the practice, I look for answers that emphasize teamwork. I’m not interested in hiring someone who is always the hero of his or her own story.

It is also important that we will be delivering care in the context of a forward-looking community hospital with strong operating room staff and the resources to provide the instrumentation and clinical support we need. Haymarket Medical Center is a beautiful place with very high staff morale.

What will be the initial focus on your practice?

I will be treating the full array of spinal disorders, including minimally invasive techniques. Revision surgery is a particular interest of mine. I like the challenge of helping patients who have undergone prior surgeries and who either didn’t improve or improved but are again symptomatic.

We will draw on specialist groups in Charlottesville as necessary, but in these cases, patients will have the option of having their preliminary testing and follow-up close to home. I hope that the practice will grow rapidly and that we will be able to bring in another surgeon relatively soon. 

What’s your approach to collaborating with referring physicians? 

We want referring physicians to have the same great experience with us that our patients do. I’m providing my cellphone number to every physician I can, and we’re going to do everything we can to make the process of referring the patient as easy and seamless as possible. All I need to know is the patient’s name, date of birth and phone number and why the physician is referring the patient. We’ll take it from there, handling all the preliminary testing. UVA and Novant providers don’t even have to fax us patient records because they are in Epic. And of course, we will follow up at every stage of treatment.

How are you enjoying the Haymarket area?

There are a lot of good things you can say about Lubbock, but scenery is not one of them. We absolutely love it here.