Brain surgery shouldn’t be scary, says UK pediatric neurosurgeon
Meet Dr. Brandon Miller, a pediatric neurosurgeon at UK HealthCare. He treats patients of all ages who have brain and spine injuries or problems. We caught up with him for our latest Making the Rounds interview to chat about his practice and what he enjoys most about his work.
What kinds of patients do you see?
I see babies in the NICU and even sometimes patients and families in consultation before babies are born. And then I take care of people who have neurosurgical problems throughout their lifetime, throughout their youth and adolescence, and even as adults if their pediatric conditions are persistent.
How did you become interested in pediatric neurosurgery?
In medical school, I realized pretty quickly that neurosurgeons were the people who had the ability to use a lot of the research and to be involved with patients as soon as they come through the door.
I always really enjoyed working with young people. We take care of young people who have a lot of challenges because of an injury or other neurosurgical problems. I’m always inspired by how brave they are. Kids really just want to get back out there and enjoy their lives even if they have some challenges. It’s just a pleasure to take care of people like that.
What’s the best part about working at a hospital like UK HealthCare?
Having all of these experts in one hospital is great. It’s not uncommon that I’ll see patients in my clinic and then call a colleague on the phone and say, “Are you able to come by my clinic and see someone?” Sometimes my patients need to see a neurologist, and we’re able to just walk with them next door and see the neurologist who’s there.
It’s very easy to get people the care that they need here. We don’t feel limited at all. A lot of our patients come from hours away, and we’re able to plan for their next follow-up appointment with me, their next MRI and their next visit with oncology, for example, to all be on the same day. We’re able to break down some of the barriers that can sometimes limit care.
What’s your patient-care philosophy?
My philosophy of care begins before surgery with my evaluation and includes patient education at every step of the way. From the first time I meet patients and their families, I want them to feel educated about what’s going on. I want them to feel comfortable asking questions. I always tell patients and families, “We’d rather have you call 100 times when you didn’t really need to than not call when you did.” I think just a little bit of extra time and communication can really make patients and families feel more comfortable and more confident about the care that they’re receiving.
One thing that I really enjoy about taking care of children and their families is the long-term relationship that we have. There’s this stereotype about surgeons that we come in, do the surgery and are not around. That’s just not true in pediatric neurosurgery. We see a lot of conditions that change over the course of someone’s life. We’re really there for the long-term – to not just take care of the patient with a single surgery but to manage their problems throughout the course of their lifetime.