Visiting Surgeon Program

10. VSP

From left – Dr. Bhave and his visiting surgeon, Dr. Patel

Committee Chair: Alok Sharan, MD
Montefiore Medical Center
Einstein College of Medicine

In 2015, two surgeons, one from the US and another from India, will be supported as a Visiting Surgeon by a grant from IASA.


VSP is designed to facilitate educational exchange between interested spine surgeons for the benefit of practicing surgeons in India and their patients. Each visiting surgeon will be selected and based upon their expertise in a specific area of interest to the host clinic, such as minimally invasive procedures, degenerative spine, tumor, trauma, pediatric deformity, etc. Host clinics will, with the visiting surgeon, design a program agenda that accomplishes the goals of the visit. Minimally, the visiting surgeon would be expected to give a grand rounds lecture to faculty and staff, participate in patient clinics, educating residents and staff surgeons, participate in local conferences as may be held, and where feasible, participate in or observe surgical procedures. Duration of each visit will be subject to the program content. IASA will support a VSP up to 5 days at the host clinic.


IASA will cover the following expenses:

  • Round-trip airfare
  • Lodging up to 5-nights stay depending upon program agenda.
  • Any cost associated with an extended stay beyond the 5-nights will be the responsibility of the attendee.
Application procedure

Applications should be submitted at least 90 days in advance of the preferred VSP dates. All communication should be emailed or mailed to Nazie Dana, IASA Program Director, at:


Host Application Visitor Application


A VSP in Pune
11. VSP

Dr. Patel and his host Dr. Bhave (right) and other colleagues at Baharti Hospital.

My visit to India as a Visiting Surgeon was scheduled to coincide with the 2015 ASSICON in Pune. I met my host, Dr. Arvind Bhave, at the hotel where we spend some time getting to know each other. He is a very accomplished physician and academician, who has dedicated many years to the field of spine surgery, and has traveled abroad in search of knowledge and experience to learn all aspects of spine care. Dr. Bhave practices, as many physicians do in India, at both a medical school and a government hospital as well as a private practice. He was one of the founding members of the orthopedic department at the Baharti Vidyapeeth University Medical College, where he fostered the field of spine surgery. He also practices at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Super Specialty Hospital. Dr. Bhave was involved in the hospital from the beginning when he and his colleagues helped to develop it from the perspective of one designed by physicians for physicians. It was funded by the charitable contributions of a famous Indian singer name Lata Mangeshkar. Her foundation established both the main hospital and the super specialty hospital. Thus it was a great pleasure to get to know Dr. Bhave and have the opportunity to interact. We spent the afternoon discussing and comparing medical practices in Orthopedics and in spine surgery in the US versus in India and the various challenges of practice in both countries. We also discussed Dr. Bhave’s other passion, which is supporting an orphanage in Pune. What started with a handful of kids has grown into

The following day was a full day, starting with an early morning visit to Baharti Vidyapeeth Hospital and an opportunity to get to know the residents. Here I had the honor and pleasure of giving a lecture to the orthopedic residents who were still studying general Orthopedics and spine care was a main part of their training. As they had an active trauma center, my presentation was on cervical, thoracic and lumbar fractures and trauma. This was a lively interaction among the residents and the faculty of well-established spine surgeons. It was followed by interactions and discussions with the residents where I got to know a little more about their daily activities and their orthopedic training. I had a brief tour of the hospital as well as meetings with the head of the Orthopedic Department, Dr. Sanjay N. Patil, and the Dean of the Medical School, Dr. Vivek A. Saoji. It was a pleasure to meet the Dean and we shared many similar ideas about the future of medical education as well as ideas on improving both education and healthcare together.

I had the opportunity to see Dr. Bhave in action at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital while seeing post-op patients. Here we saw many patients together, in follow-up and as new evaluations. He saw a wide variety of patients from simple disc herniations and sacroiliac joint pain, to complex cervical spinal tumors and myelopathy. It was quite an education in a completely different medical system, trying to optimize patient care and minimize expense. The tour of the hospital was quite impressive as I could see the old wing that has been built 12 years prior and the new wing that had just been completed, reflecting the continued advancement in hospital systems and hospital care in India. The hospital operates with advanced techniques and theories in critical care, and boasts well-supplied operating rooms with all of the basic necessities for surgery and high quality sterilization process. It was also clear that Dr. Bhave operates with less technology and less funding readily available to him compared to the luxury we enjoy in the United States. Rounding on his patients was also an interesting experience to see how not only were the patients themselves involved in their own care but often they had their families with them in support of their health and recovery. Again, we saw quite complex pathologies including spinal tumors and myelopathy. I was impressed with Dr. Bhave’s dedication and his very personal interactions with his patients.

Working hours in India are quite long and the day didn’t really end until approximately 8:00 PM when we met at a hotel conference room for the Pune Spine Association meeting. I had the honor of giving a talk on non-union in lumbar spine fusion surgery and had the opportunity to hear a talk on Preventing Spinal Infections by Dr. Ravishankar Vedantam who was visiting from Richmond, Indiana. This was an opportunity for me to give a presentation as well as learn quite a bit and hear about the biologics used in spine surgery locally in Pune. I also learned of some of the challenges behind spine care among the group of 20 spine surgeons that were present for the meeting. After the lectures, my long day ended with a wonderful authentic meal of local Indian fare. Pune is in the state of Maharashtra and it is a state known for its fine cuisine.

12. VSP

Deenanath Mangeshkar Super Specialty Hospital – Pune

The following days were filled with the ASSICON (Association of Spine Surgeons of India Conference), and a brief visit with some of my old relatives in Pune whom I had never met. I was quite surprised at how big and elaborate the conference was. This was the 28th Annual conference, organized by Dr. Amol Rege. The meeting was extremely well organized and had a very high level of academic presentations. It was supported by the NASS (North American Spine Society) as well with delegates from the North American Spine Society who gave excellent talks. The local Pune physicians, as well as the physicians from all over India, played a huge role in the organization and presentation of a quite amazing meeting. It was a testament to the amount of research that is performed within India and the high level of clinical care that is provided in many of the centers of excellence. I was given the opportunity to give a talk as guest faculty and this was quite an honor among 650+ participants of spine surgeons. I also had the opportunity to visit many of the booths in the display area and see the various medical supplies and products that were manufactured locally as well as internationally. It was definitely to see both how similar and different spine care is between the US and India.

Once the meeting wound down, my departure was met with the great pleasure of having made many new friends and contacts in Pune and in India as a whole, and I was sad to leave after such tremendous hospitality and warmth and exchange of knowledge. I expect that we will continue to have many interactions and have already made plans on next steps as well as future contacts. This was a tremendous opportunity and a great interaction for which I am thankful, especially for the support and sponsorship I received from IASA.